Demise of Damascus?
By Hal Lindsay
A stunning report published by Jane's Defense Weekly confirms rumors of a July explosion at a Syrian military base at al-Safir, near Aleppo, in which reportedly "dozens" of Iranian engineers were killed along with their Syrian counterparts.
Syria had originally dismissed reports of the explosion by saying the blast was generated by the desert heat causing the accidental detonation of a stockpile of explosives.
Jane's reported that the explosion was actually triggered while the engineers were fitting a chemical warhead onto a Scud-C missile. The explosion and fire released containers of the deadly nerve agents VX and sarin gas, as well as a mustard gas blistering agent.
Israeli Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter told reporters this week, "Iran has entered into strategic cooperation with Syria on conventional and nonconventional weapons development," adding, "The Iranians are very big in Syria."
Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is preparing Syria to cover his flank, should war break out between Israel and Iran over Tehran's nuclear arsenal. Ahmadinejad is evidently gambling on Syria taking out Israel while Iran squares off against the United States. Were Iran and Israel to face each other head-to-head, one or the other would inevitably cease to exist. Israel would have no choice but to annihilate Iran before Iran annihilated Israel.
Israel's "Samson Option" is named after the biblical judge who sacrificed himself in order to take his enemies with him. In the event of its impending destruction, Israel's retaliatory plan involves taking the Middle East along with it.
As the Iraq experience has proved, war with the United States is survivable. The terms of Israel's "Samson Option" mean war with Israel involving first-use weapons of mass destruction is not.
To Ahmadinejad's way of thinking, if somebody has to be martyred to the Mahdi's cause, why not Syria? Twenty-five hundred odd years ago, the Hebrew prophet Isaiah prophesied of the destruction of Damascus. This prophecy is made more fascinating by the fact it remains unfulfilled in history.
Damascus is the oldest continually inhabited city on earth. Although conquered many times, its status as an economic and cultural center of antiquity preserved it intact to this day.
But Isaiah predicted Damascus would one day face utter destruction: "Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city and it will become a fallen ruin," he writes in Isaiah 17:1.
The prophet also predicts Damascus' destruction will come at a time when "the glory of Jacob" had begun to fade (verse 4), at a time when Israel is in great peril of being "shaken like an olive tree," leaving only a few "on the topmost bough."
Isaiah prophesies that, when Damascus' destruction comes, there will be "an uproar of many peoples" and "the rumbling of nations" but that they will flee at God's rebuke.
It seems clear from recent events that Syria is preparing chemical and biological weapons, and possibly some form of nuclear weapon for use in some future war against Israel. Syria and Iran have been outfitting Hezbollah with the latest in offensive weaponry since the war of June 2006.
Israel is unlikely to sit back and wait for a first-use chemical or gas attack from Damascus. Neither is it likely to wait until Ahmadinejad can use Syria to flank them in the event of conflict with Iran. So the number of Israeli raids against Syrian targets is likely to escalate until either Israel has destroyed the threat or Syria responds militarily. If Syria attacks with weapons of mass destruction, it can expect a massive, in-kind Israeli response.
Bible prophecy doesn't make allowances for a full-scale unconventional war of annihilation of Israel by Iran, however. Ezekiel predicts Iran's participation of the Gog-Magog invasion as part of a Russian-led alliance, not a regional alliance with Syria. Both Iran and Israel are listed as participants in that future conflict.
But Syria isn't.
Syria isn't numbered among any of the various protagonists prophesied to participate in the conflicts of the last days.
Isaiah describes the destruction of Damascus in much the same terms that would be used today to describe the effects of all-out, no-holds-barred Israeli retaliatory strike against a Syrian gas attack.
"At evening time, behold, there is terror! Before morning, they are no more" (Isaiah 17:13-14).