x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Israel accuses Iran and Hizbollah for Syria crisis

Israel is anxiously watching developments in the neighbouring country, fearing widening instability in the region.

JERUSALEM // Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, led a chorus of Israeli officials expressing outrage over the bloodshed in Syria, accusing Iran and Lebanese Hizbollah militants of complicity in the carnage there.

Israel is anxiously watching developments in the neighbouring country, fearing widening instability in the region. With dozens killed in ferocious weekend battles, a string of top Israeli officials sounded alarms over the deteriorating situation in Syria and called for international intervention.

Mr Netanyahu accused Syria's powerful, anti-Israel allies of helping the regime of President Basher Assad to brutally suppress the 15-month-old rebellion.

"This massacre is not executed by the Syrian government alone; it is assisted by Iran and Hizbollah, and the world should realise this is a concentrated axis of evil: Iran, Syria and Hizbollah," Mr Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Violence killed at least 29 people yesterday, bringing the death toll since the start of the uprising to more than 14,100, a monitoring group said. The UN's latest estimate is that 9,000 people have died in Syria's conflict but that figure is from April and the world body has been unable to update the figure.

Israel's vice prime minister, Shaul Mofaz, warned that Iran and Hizbollah could take the conflict beyond Syria's borders, and portrayed the slaughters in the harshest of terms. "A crime against humanity, genocide, is transpiring in Syria today," Mr Mofaz said in an interview with Army Radio, faulting world powers for what he called a "limp" response and singling out Russia because it is arming Syria. President Shimon Peres also urged world powers to intervene, telling Israel Radio the international community was not doing enough to end the bloodletting.

* Associated Press with additional reporting from Agence-France Presse