It was the first time Israel has accused the embattled Syrian leader of using his stockpile of chemical weapons and could pressure Western countries to intervene. Britain and France recently announced that they had evidence that Assad’s government had used chemical weapons. Although the US says it has not been able to verify these claims, President Barack Obama has warned that their use by Assad would be a “game changer.”
Israel, which borders south-western Syria, has been warily watching the Syrian civil war since the fighting erupted there in March 2011. Israeli officials are worried that Assad’s stockpile of chemical weapons and other advanced arms could reach Islamic extremists. The concern is that if Assad is overthrown, any of these groups could turn his sophisticated arsenal against Israel.