Israel’s Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant called for the assassination of Syrian President Bashar Assad following yesterday’s US State Department report that the Syrian regime was using a prison crematorium to hide mass killings outside Damascus, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Speaking at a conference outside Jerusalem, Galant, a retired Israeli Defence Forces general, said that in light of recent allegations that Assad’s regime carried out mass executions and burned the bodies of the victims, he had to be killed.
“The reality in which people are executed in Syria, being hit deliberately by chemical weapons, their bodies being burned, something we haven’t seen in 70 years. In my view, we are crossing a red line. And in my view, the time has come to assassinate Assad. It’s as simple as that,” said Galant, who previously served as the head of the IDF’s Southern Command. The minister said Assad’s actions in Syria amount to nothing less than a “genocide,” with “hundreds of thousands killed.”
Galant also likened the assassination of Assad to cutting off the “tail of the snake.” After that, he said, “we can focus on the head, which is in Tehran.”
In a conversation with The Times of Israel after his speech, Galant stood by his comments and acknowledged that targeted political assassinations are considered illegal under international law, but clarified that he “wasn’t speaking about practicalities.” However, he added, “Anyone who murders people and burns their corpses does not have a place in this world.”
As reported on Monday, the United States State Department accused the Assad regime of carrying out mass killings of thousands of prisoners and burning the bodies in a large crematorium outside the capital.
The US said it believed about 50 detainees a day are being hanged at Saydnaya military prison, about 45 minutes north of Damascus. Many of the bodies, it said, are then burned in the crematorium. “We believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place,” said Stuart Jones, the top US diplomat for the Middle East, in accusing the Syrian government of sinking “to a new level of depravity.”
According to Galant, while it is unclear whether or not the crematorium was in use for all those years, it is imperative that something must now be done. The Obama administration made a “strategic mistake” Galant said by “deviating” from the course of supporting Sunni countries in order to try to come closer to Shi’ite countries, something which Galant said is different in the Trump administration.
During his speech, Galant also said that in a wider view, Assad and his ally Hezbollah, the Lebanese terror group, are larger threats to the world order than the Islamic State and other Sunni terrorist groups. Galant was speaking at the Israel Defense publication’s “Ground Warfare and Logistics” conference at the tank museum in Latrun.
Up until a year-and-a-half ago, Syria looked like it was heading towards a Sunni rule, but following the Russian intervention, who used methods first used in Chechnya such as blockading cities while continuing aerial bombardments, the will of the rebels to fight was broken and the tides turned.
But while the Russians are currently backing Assad, they realize the importance of the region and understand who they are aligned with, Galant said.
“They realize that once the war is over there will still be 20 million Sunnis in Syria who will be wanting to avenge their dead and the Russians know they will be a target,” Galant said adding that the Russians will “seek avenues to make relations better with the Sunnis, including sacrificing Assad.”
As for ISIS, the Israeli minister was laconic: “The world will wipe out Daesh, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda,” he said. Galant said his assessment came from the fact that those terrorist groups do not enjoy the same level of support as Syria and Hezbollah, which are backed by Iran.