Israeli minister: ‘The time has come’ to kill Bashar Assad
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Israeli minister: ‘The time has come’ to kill Bashar Assad

Yoav Galant says revelation the Syrian president is executing prisoners and burning their bodies 'crosses a red line'

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Housing Minister Yoav Galant calls for the assassination of Syrian President Bashar Assad at a conference in Latrun, near Jerusalem, on May 16, 2017. (Miriam Tzachi/Office of Yoav Gallant)
Housing Minister Yoav Galant calls for the assassination of Syrian President Bashar Assad at a conference in Latrun, near Jerusalem, on May 16, 2017. (Miriam Tzachi/Office of Yoav Gallant)

An Israeli minister called for the assassination of Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday, saying he “does not have a place in this world.”

Speaking at a conference outside Jerusalem, Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant, a retired IDF 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 of the situation in Syria is that they are executing people, using directed chemical attacks against them, and the latest extreme — burning their corpses, something we haven’t seen in 70 years,” Galant said, in a reference to the Holocaust.

The minister said Assad’s actions in Syria amount to nothing less than a “genocide,” with “hundreds of thousands killed.”

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.

“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.

In this June 7, 2016 file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad addresses the newly-elected parliament in Damascus, Syria. (SANA via AP)
In this June 7, 2016, photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad addresses the newly elected parliament in Damascus, Syria. (SANA via AP)

Galant 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.

He 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.”

A satellite image of what the State Department described as a building in a prison complex in Syria that was modified to support a crematorium, April 18, 2017. (State Department/DigitalGlobe via AP)
A satellite image of what the State Department described as a building in a prison complex in Syria that was modified to support a crematorium, April 18, 2017. (State Department/DigitalGlobe via AP)

The State Department 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.”

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.

“The world will wipe out Daesh, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda,” he said, using the Arabic nickname for the Islamic State.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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