Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad fired off a round of accusations against Israel this week, as his regime faces international censure for a deadly gas attack on the rebel-held village of Khan Sheikhoun that left at least 86 civilians dead, including 20 children.
In an interview with a Croatian newspaper Thursday, Assad accused Israel of supporting “terrorists” opposing his regime, which he suggested amounts to a war between Syria and the Jewish State.
“Concern about a war is unrealistic, because the reality is that we are living this war,” Assad said. “But as for calling it a Syrian-Israeli war, you can assume in any case that these terrorists are fighting for Israel.”
Assad accused Israel of collaborating with a host of countries, including the United States, Britain, France, and Saudi Arabia, to topple his regime.
“Practically, our victory over the terrorists is a victory over all those states put together,” Assad said. “That’s why Israel is doing its best to support these terrorists in every place the Syrian Army advances.”
In March, Assad leveled the same charges against Israel, claiming that the country was “directly supporting” terrorists in Syria. Assad’s latest accusations against Israel this week were echoed by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mualem. At a Damascus press conference Thursday, Mualem suggested Israel was “the main beneficiary” of this week’s gas attack allegations against the Syrian government.
“I stress to you once again: the Syrian army has not, did not and will not use this kind of weapons,” Mualem insisted, “not just against our own people, but even against the terrorists that attack our civilians with their mortar round.”
Mualem did not clarify how Israel benefited from the allegations.
In an interview Thursday with Yediot Ahronoth, Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated unequivocally that the Assad regime was directly responsible for the gas attack.
“The murderous chemical weapons attacks on citizens in Idlib province in Syria and on a local hospital were carried out on the direct order and planned by the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, using Syrian planes,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman added that Israel will continue to stay on the sidelines of the conflict.
“Why do we need to take the chestnuts out of the fire? This is the responsibility of the international community,” Lieberman said. “I am not prepared to be the schmuck that the whole world pisses on. The [rest of] the world should take responsibility instead of just saying it will.”