Three armed gunmen assassinated a Syrian general in Damascus on Saturday, as deadly violence persisted throughout the country and regional and Western states considered possible interventions.
Brig. Gen. Issa al-Kholi was shot to death outside his home. He is reportedly from a powerful Alawite military family has ties to President Bashar al Assad’s family. Syrian state-run news media reported that “a number of efficient, skilled and specialized national cadres were assassinated by armed terrorist groups.” citing the killings of a professor, a nuclear specialist, a teacher and a couple of engineers in addition to Kholi.
Dozens more people were killed in Syria on Saturday, including in Homs where opposition activists claim hundreds of people died this week from a barrage of Syrian bombing of civilian areas. The opposition still reportedly has control of most of Homs, however.
After an interventionist resolution at the UN Security Council, pushed by the West and the Gulf states, was vetoed by Russia and China, Saudi Arabia has drafted a resolution condemning the Syrian government’s violence to be submitted to the UN General Assembly, where it will not be legally binding.
The three-page draft “strongly condemns” the violations of human rights by Syrian regime. It cites “the use of force against civilians, arbitrary executions, killing and persecution of protesters, human rights defenders and journalists, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, interference with access to medical treatment, torture, sexual violence and ill-treatment, including against children.”
Addtionally, the UN’s Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect reiterated a concern it first expressed last July that “widespread and systematic attacks against civilians could constitute crimes against humanity under international criminal law.”
While the Syrian regime has certainly committed serious crimes, the international doctrine of “responsibility to protect” has acted in the past as an instrument of Western imperialism. At this point, any coordinated military action headed by the U.S. would be unlikely to take place without some kind of resolution passed by the Security Council. In the meantime, there is a high concern that world powers will engage in Syria through proxies.
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