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Funerals in Deraa over the weekend
Photo: Reuters
Shaul Mofaz
Photo: Shiran Granot
Syria opposition: Regime lost control of Damascus, other cities
PM says Iran, Hezbollah helping Assad regime 'massacre civilians'; new Syrian National Council head says government in Damascus 'on its last legs'

Iran and Hezbollah bear some responsibility for the recent atrocities in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

 

"It's not just the Syrian government. It is being aided by Iran and Hezbollah," the PM the weekly cabinet meeting. "The world must recognize this focused axis of evil. People must understand what kind of environment we are living in."

 

Netanyahu said Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime is massacring civilians. "We see horrific photos of children and elderly people," he said.

  

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Meanwhile, the new leader of the Syrian National Council, Abdel Basset Sayda, told AFP on Sunday that Assad's is on its "last legs" and has lost control of several cities.

 

"We are entering a sensitive phase. The regime is on its last legs," Sayda said a few hours after he was named as the new SNC president. "The multiplying massacres and shellings show that it is struggling.

 

"According to reports, the regime has lost control of Damascus and other cities," he asserted. Fighting between regime troops and rebels has intensified recently in the capital, which remains the city most protected by regime forces.

 

Asked about his ambitions as SNC leader, Sayda said the opposition bloc "would focus its efforts on the international community to take a decisive move against the regime, which continues to carry out massacres."

 

"The Annan plan still exists but it has not been implemented. We will work for this plan to be included under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, to force the regime to implement it and to leave all options open" he said.

 

Chapter VII allows for sanctions and, in extreme cases, military action. Russia and China, infuriated by the NATO campaign in Libya last year, have vowed to oppose any military intervention.

 

"We want to strengthen links with activists on the ground and the Free Syrian Army, who we will support with all our means", he said.

 

Sayda's predecessor, Burhan Ghalioun, stepped down last month after being criticized for ignoring the Local Coordination Committees, which spearhead anti-government protests on the ground, and for giving the Muslim Brotherhood too large a role.

  

Also on Sunday, a senior Israeli minister accused Assad of committing genocide during his crackdown on a 15-month uprising, in an unusually harsh censure of the Jewish state's Arab neighbor.

 

Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz also criticized Russia for arming Damascus and repeated Israel's demand for international military intervention to topple Assad, akin to last year's campaign in Libya.

 

Israel has until recently been slow to call for Assad's fall, wary of worsening the turmoil in Syria - the two countries are enemies but have been in a mostly stable stand-off for decades.

 

With hourly media reports in Israel of Syrian civilian deaths, public anger has been growing and Israeli officials have been stepping up their criticism.

 


"משטר אסד קרוב לסופו", אמר סידה (רביעי מימין) (צילום: AFP)

'We are entering a sensitive phase.' Sayda (fourth from right)

 

"A crime against humanity, genocide, is being conducted in Syria today. And the silence of the world powers is contrary to all human logic," said Mofaz during an interview on Israel's Army Radio.

 

Foreign powers were "making do with flaccid condemnation" rather than intervening to overthrow Assad, he added.

 

"Worse than that is the Russian conduct, which weakly condemns the slaughter while continuing to arm Assad's murderous regime. Best-case, this is irresponsibility, and worst-case, it is a partnership in the slaughter," Mofaz said.

 

A longtime Syrian ally, Russia opposes outside intervention against Damascus. Moscow has denied supporting any side in the conflict or providing arms that could be used in a Syrian civil war.

 

Russia says it would be open to Assad's exit from power as long as it was a result of an inclusive political process among Syrians.

 

Mofaz, a former top general and political centrist who joined  Netanyahu's conservative coalition government last month, said Israel had limited options on Syria but had to lobby for international action.

 

"We need to enlist the West. We need our voice to be heard. This slaughter is being carried out not far from Israel's border," he said.

 

"We cannot get involved, for understandable reasons. But I think that the West, led by the United States, has an interest in guarding the threshold (so) genocide does not take place."

 

Such language is especially loaded in Israel, which was founded in part as a haven for survivors of the Holocaust.

 

Speaking separately on Israel Radio, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said the Netanyahu government was prepared to help Syrians who take refuge in Jordan and other countries with ties to the Jewish state.

 

Reuters, AFP contributed to the report

 

 

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פרסום ראשון: 06.10.12, 11:18
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