Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman urges international community to intervene in Syria, says Israel will provide aid if asked but will not act alone • Rescued Sunday Times reporter Paul Conroy says, “It’s not a war, it’s a massacre” • China reiterates call on Syrian government to stop the violence, launch dialogue.
Syrian protesters in Dara'a over the weekend say:-
Assad’s fate is in Israel’s hands.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday urged the international community to intervene immediately in Syria to end the bloodshed that has plagued the war-torn country for nearly a year.
“Such images of death are only seen in Hollywood movies,” Lieberman told Army Radio. “They must be stopped immediately.”
Lieberman went on to say that political considerations must be put aside. “First and foremost, we are human beings before we are politicians, leaders, analysts and journalists,” he said. “What is happening there today, in the 21st century, is unbearable and we must help.” Lieberman also said that Israel would provide humanitarian aid to Syria if asked, but would not act alone.
Speaking to Israel Radio on Sunday, Lieberman said the international community’s failure to stop the violence in Syria showed that it could not keep Israel safe.
Lieberman said the inability of international leaders and aid workers to alleviate the “systematic murder of innocent civilians” in Syria “challenges all the promises of the international community that it is responsible for our security.”
“The question arises that if the entire world cannot end the terrible massacre, the bloodshed, what is the value of all the promises of the world community to Israel that they will guarantee our security?” he asked.
Lieberman’s remarks come as the U.S. tries to persuade Israel to rely on global economic sanctions and diplomacy to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions before resorting to a military strike on its nuclear facilities.
Israel is concerned Iran is developing nuclear weapons that could be used against it and views the program as an existential threat. Iran denies the claim and says it seeks nuclear reactors only for energy and medical research.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Interior Ministry announced on Saturday that the Syrian Army had cleared armed insurgents out of Homs, one of the flashpoints of anti-government demonstrations. The war-torn city has been under siege for around a month and details of what has transpired there in recent weeks are beginning to come to light.
Paul Conroy, a Sunday Times reporter who was wounded during the Syrian bombardment of Homs that killed two other Western journalists on Feb. 22, described on Saturday the horrors he witnessed before being rescued. “It’s not a war, it’s a massacre, an indiscriminate massacre of men, women and children,” Conroy told Sky News. “There is no electricity ... It’s more than a catastrophe. It’s snowing there now, [and] people can’t light fires.” He said the world would look back on the Syrian massacre with shame and wonder why no one acted.
Sources in Syria reported on Saturday that the bodies of journalist Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik had been transferred to Western diplomats. On Friday, the Red Cross confirmed that their remains had been handed over by Syrian authorities and on Saturday they were handed over to the French ambassador and a Polish diplomat in Damascus.
Meanwhile, China on Saturday called on the Syrian regime to end all violence, especially against civilians. China urged the Syrian government and rebels to “launch an inclusive political dialogue with no preconditions” under the mediation of the newly appointed U.N.-Arab League envoy on the Syria crisis, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
“The Syrian government and all parties concerned should immediately, fully and unconditionally cease all acts of violence, particularly violence against innocent civilians,” said a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement carried by Xinhua news agency on Sunday.
However, despite the Syrian allies’ warnings, the violence continues unabated. Syrian forces launched a fresh assault on Homs on Saturday as the Red Cross pressed forward with efforts to deliver badly needed aid to thousands of people stranded in a besieged neighborhood, despite warnings from regime troops of land mines and booby traps.
Two days after they fought their way into the rebel stronghold of Baba Amr, government forces shelled several other neighborhoods of the city, the country’s third largest with about 1 million people. They included districts where many of Baba Amr’s residents had fled, activists said.
The Syrian regime has said it is fighting “armed gangs” in Baba Amr, which has become a symbol of the nearly year-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian rule. The revolt has killed more than 7,500 people, according to the U.N. Seven hundred people were reportedly killed in February alone.
Meanwhile, the Israel Hayom interview with a senior Free Syrian Army officer, who said Assad’s fate depends in part on Israel, has been picked up by Arab media outlets, with London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi quoting it. The sentiments expressed by the officer appeared to resonate at a mass protest in Daraa on Saturday, where one banner said:
“America will not interfere seriously unless Israel wants it.”