Lieberman offers aid to victims of Syria horror

Pledge: Lieberman

Pledge: Lieberman

Although Israel has remained resolutely on the sidelines over Syria throughout the past year, last Friday Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel would send humanitarian aid to President Bashar Assad's victims if asked.

A rare contact occurred last week online when a Syrian citizen, Abd el-Hadr, wrote on the Facebook wall of IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai: "We want to get rid of Assad and his regime and transform Syria into a moderate state with freedom of speech, religion and thought.

"We are not interested in war with you and are not really interested in the Golan."

Brig-Gen Mordechai, a former intelligence officer answered him in Arabic: "We all wish for peace in the region and hope that our hopes for security, peace and coexistence will be realised."

The only way to stop the killing is foreign air power

While the most intense fire this week was in the Homs region and the northern district of Idlib, the Syrian civil war is taking place in many parts of the country, including last week in a village on the Golan Heights, a mile away from the Israeli border, where eight soldiers and seven deserters were reported killed in a shoot-out.

Meanwhile, calls for military intervention in Syria have increased. John McCain, the senior Republican senator on the US Senate Armed Forces Committee, said on Tuesday: "Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is necessary but, at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to stop the slaughter and save innocent lives. The only realistic way to do so is with foreign air power."

In another potentially significant development, Prime Minister Reccep Tayyep Erdogan of Turkey said: "Humanitarian aid corridors must immediately be opened."

Such corridors would almost certainly need military protection by the Turkish army, which would have to cross the 560-mile Turkey-Syria border for the first time since the Syrian revolution began a year ago.

Human rights organisations est-imate that over 9,000 Syrians have been killed in the revolution over the past year. This week, as Syrian forces moved into the Baba Amr suburb of the central city Homs, further reports of wholesale massacres of civilians emerged.

Thousands of refugees are trying to flee from the Homs area over the Lebanese border and, according to reports, refugee convoys are being bombed from the air, a development that has sparked more talk of imposing a "no-fly" area by the international community.

Last updated: 1:32pm, March 8 2012