Syria: Israel offers aid to civilians as Assad uses chemical weapons on his own people

According to Ayoub Kara, Israel’s Deputy Minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee, the Assad regime in Syria has used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians in its struggle to control the country. Photos Kara has seen, according to Times of Israel, led him to believe that the embattled government is using such weapons against Syrian men, women and children. Kara, who is a member of Israel’s Druze community, noted that Israeli medical times are working on the border between Syria and Turkey to save lives and treat people injured by the deadly clashes between Syria’s government forces and the insurgent groups arrayed against them.  Kara is a member of the Likud party, which is currently in power and led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Speaking at gathering of Druze community leaders on June 9 in the Golan Heights, Kara said that Israel is primed to accept Syrians wounded during the now 15-month long conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives. Speaking about Israel’s humanitarian assistance, Kara said the Jewish state is also willing to go to Jordan to treat the wounded. “Israel is ready to receive casualties who are evacuated from Syria to Israel, and alternatively we are ready to send medical assistance through Jordan to those unfortunate children and babies whose families have been annihilated by the shabiha of the Syrian regime,” Kara said. The shabiha are pro-government militia who have been accused of some of the worst atrocities against civilians recently.

So far, there has been no official confirmation from other Israeli officials concerning Kara’s revelations. However, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has said several times in recent months that Israel stands ready to offer humanitarian assistance to Syrian civilians affected by the violence there.  
During the meeting at the Golan Heights, Kara was presented with evidence that clearly indicates the use of chemical weapons by the regime material, including photos of thick black clouds that may indicate the use of chemical weapons in the areas where government forces and rebels are fighting. On June 7, Syrian opposition sources claimed Syria’s air forces dropped toxic materials in the province of Daraa. They claim that the chemicals smell like sulfur and causes drowsiness and unconsciousness. It was also reported that Assad’s forces had used unidentified gas shells on civilians in Daraa, Hama and Deir ez-Zor.

Deputy Minister Kara has maintained close contacts with the Syrian opposition and is in charge of coordinating the transfer of Israeli humanitarian assistance to Syrian citizens. Syrian exiles have told Kara’s staff that “The declaration by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that Israel will transfer humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people proves that Israel is the only humanitarian country in the Middle East.”

On June 8-9, government forces engaged with insurgents in Damascus, the national capital and center of President Bashar al-Assad’s power. Twelve hours of fighting continue into the early hours of June 9, as insurgents armed with small weapons contended with heavily armed government forces in some of the fiercest fighting since the rebellion began last year. UN observers reported that rebels fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a local power plant and damaged it. In addition, six buses were destroyed.  Amateur video recorded intense exchanges of small arms fire during the clash in Damascus.

At least 52 civilians were killed around the country outside Damascus on June 9, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Among them were nine women and children who died in pre-dawn shelling in Daraa, where the uprising against Assad began in March 2011.  Six children were among 10 killed by an artillery barrage that struck a house where they had taken cover during fierce fighting in the coastal region of Latakia, Assad opponents said. On June 8, monitors working for the United Nations visited a village where nearly 80 men, women and children were killed in largest massacre yet in Syria. The UN monitors found said they found body parts and damaged homes, which were averred by video footage.
 



Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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