Israel Decries Inaction on Syria

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

Israel said on Thursday it believed Syrian forces had used chemical weapons in the killing of hundreds of people in the rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, and it accused the world of turning a blind eye to such attacks.

“The world condemns, the world investigates, the world pays lip service,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Israel Radio.

“Nothing tangible or significant has been done in the past two years to halt [President Bashar al-]Assad’s incessant massacre of his citizens,” he said.

Echoing remarks made by Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon on Wednesday, Steinitz said that according to “Israeli intelligence assessments,” chemical weapons had been used in the rebel-held eastern Damascus suburbs, and “not for the first time” in Syria’s civil war. He did not provide further details.

Israeli leaders, while accusing Assad’s forces of chemical attacks, have until now stopped short of urging Western military intervention in the Syrian conflict.

In his remarks, Steinitz focused on the Iranian part of the equation, saying Western sanctions already in place over Tehran’s suspected quest for atomic weapons should be strengthened with punitive steps over its support for Assad.

“If Assad is using chemical weapons and massacring his people, Iran is responsible because Assad is today a total offshoot of Iran. Without Iranian support he would not manage to hold on,” Steinitz said, citing arms supplies and funding.

Also on Thursday, Labor MK Yitzchak Herzog issued a statement that the U.S. needed to intervene in Syria. Herzog wrote that “the pictures from Syria are frightening. Those who know my position for the past two years on this know that I advocated for American intervention from the beginning. Had this occurred, the terrible human suffering that is taking place in Syria could have been averted, and the country might have moved to a democratic period.”