Former Israeli general: Assad’s actions resemble ‘genocide’

Amos Yadlin says Syrian regime has caused far more deaths than Islamic State, but receives far less media attention

Amos Yadlin, former director of military intelligence and current head of the Institute of National Security Studies (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)
Amos Yadlin, former director of military intelligence and current head of the Institute of National Security Studies (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

The former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence has described the Syrian regime’s actions in the city of Aleppo as “reminiscent of genocide” and said the need for the international community to act against President Bashar Assad is far more urgent than the fight against the Islamic State.

Speaking to German newspaper Bild this week, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, who also served as IDF attaché to Washington and who is currently the director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), called the humanitarian situation in the besieged city “unbearable” from a moral point of view.

“While the world focuses on the fight against ISIS, the Syrian regime can continue to kill” its citizens, he noted, using a popular acronym for the terror organization. He added that it was Assad’s loyalists, not Islamic State, that were “responsible for 90 percent of deaths in this war in which 400,000 people have already been killed and more than two million injured.”

Aleppo, once Syria’s economic powerhouse, has been ravaged by the civil war that began in March 2011.

The city has been roughly divided between government control in the west and rebel control in the east since shortly after fighting began there in mid-2012.

A Syrian man reacts as rescuers look for victims under the rubble of a collapsed building following a reported air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Sakhur in the northern city of Aleppo on July 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / THAER MOHAMMED)
A Syrian man reacts as rescuers look for victims under the rubble of a collapsed building following a reported air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Sakhur in the northern city of Aleppo on July 19, 2016. (AFP/Thaer Mohammed)

East Aleppo has been under siege for the past two weeks, since government forces severed the only remaining supply route into rebel-held districts. The government advance has raised fears for more than 200,000 people who remain in this part of the city, where food shortages and spiraling prices have already been reported.

“The international community cannot let this horror happen (even) one more day,” Yadlin said.

Yadlin placed some of the blame for the greater news coverage of Islamic State’s atrocities on the group’s media savviness and their eagerness to “boast of their war crimes,” while Assad tries to downplay any wrongdoing by his army and allies in Hezbollah and Iran.

He added that Assad’s actions against his own people were a major recruiting tool for IS, and thus an end to the regime would also weaken the jihadist group.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, speaks during an interview with American network NBC News, in Damascus, Syria, and aired July 14, 2016. (SANA via AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with American network NBC News in Damascus, Syria, and aired July 14, 2016. (SANA via AP)

Yadlin also claimed that “there are reports of covert cooperation between the Syrian army and ISIS against moderate parts of the opposition. The Syrian regime and ISIS have a common enemy, namely the secular-democratic forces of the opposition.”

He said a coalition of moderate Arab nations, along with the US, Russia and possibly Israel could score a victory against Assad and his Shiite allies in Hezbollah and Iran. As possible courses of action against the Syrian military, Yadlin offered declaring no-fly zones and destroying Syrian aircraft used to drop deadly barrel bombs on rebel enclaves.

The retired general also suggested that upon expelling IS forces from Syria’s southern border with Israel and Jordan, the area could be turned into a safe zone for refugees from both IS and Assad.

In March Yadlin said the civil war in Syria had depleted 90% of the country’s stockpiled missiles that previously presented a security threat to Israel.

But he warned that the volatile situation in Syria was still potentially dangerous for Israel, more so than the threat posed by Iran and Hezbollah, according to Israel Radio.

AFP contributed to this report.

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