Yad Vashem head calls for end to Syrian civil war and its ‘atrocities’

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The chairman of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial called on the world community to end the civil war in Syria.

Avner Shalev’s call on Thursday came a day after a reported chemical attack in northern Syria that killed dozens.

“Following World War II, the global community enacted universal principles and instituted international organizations with the express purpose of averting future crimes against humanity,” Shalev said in a statement.

Shalev expressed “deep concern over the appalling evidence of renewed carnage in Syria and the images of massacred children in this turbulent area,” and called upon “world leaders and the global community to act now in order to place to put a stop to the atrocities and avert further suffering.”

Also Thursday, Syrian President Bashar Assad in an interview with a Croatian newspaper also published in Syria’s official news agency SANA accused Israel of supporting the rebels in Syria’s more than five-year civil war, saying it equates to a Syria-Israel war.

“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. It is a war that has taken a new form and uses new instrument. Even if they are not a regular Israeli army, they are still fighting for Israel.”

Israel has remained on the sidelines of Syria’s civil war, though it has treated Syrian injured, both government troops and rebels, on the border and responded when rocket and artillery fire from the fighting has landed on Israel’s side of the Golan Heights.

On Wednesday, Israeli leaders called on the international community to remove chemical weapons from Syria in the wake of the attack.

Syria insists that it did not mount a chemical attack on the area, but rather struck a rebel-held arms depot that was storing chemical weapons.

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