08/28/2013, 00.00
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War in Syria, gas masks: Damascus buys from Pyongyang; Israel prepares

While the U.S. seems to be preparing for a missile attack from the sea, Assad searches for arms all over the globe. A Libyan ship, coming from North Korea bound for Syria, is intercepted in Turkey with masks, guns and bullets. In Israel, the population gets ready to respond to a chemical attacks, but the the defense equipment available is not nearly enough.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has tried to evade international sanctions on the sale of weapons with the support of North Korea. Pyongyang has sent a ship full of gas masks, bullets and firearms to Syria. The ship, identified as the Al En Ti Sar, flying the Libyan flag but was intercepted by the Turkish authorities after the passage of the Dardanelles.

According to the Sankei Shimbun - a Japanese newspaper that publishes the news today - the ships journey was halted in April thanks to a joint operation conducted by Turkish and American forces. The load, the newspaper said, "shows that the fear of chemical warfare in the Middle East dates at least to early 2013, with Damascus forced to buy weapons on the other side of the world to try to win the ongoing civil war and the international  conflict looming on the horizon. "

The government of the United States - along with the British and the Turkish - has in fact confirmed the use of chemical weapons by the loyalist army against civilians and announced a punitive action. Although it is not yet clear how the attack will take place - given that the United Nations have not yet expressed its decision and Europe seems to be divided - various sources speak of missile raid conducted from the sea by the U.S. Navy "in the coming days." Yesterday Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, stated that "if President Obama gives the order to attack, we are ready to respond within the hour."

Meanwhile, the Israeli government is preparing for a possible attack by Syria (and Iran) and has started distributing gas masks: however, the Tel Aviv reserves do not cover even half of the population. According to the Israeli Postal Service - which is managing the distribution of the masks - in the last days of the demand has increased dramatically. In the north of the country the population is even buying their own masks for fear of not being able to find those supplied by the state.

The government has not yet allocated the funds for the purchase and distribution of defense equipment against gas attacks - estimated at approximately 266 million dollars- and in Jerusalem, only 29% of the residents has one at home. By the end of the year, provided that there are no emergencies to deal with, the government of Netanyahu expects to have supplied only 60% of the population.


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