Pressure on Bashar Assad’s regime continued to mount on Wednesday, a day after the Syrian president vowed to crush the popular uprising against his rule and mocked the Arab League monitors investigating his deadly response to it.
Turkish officials seized weapons from four trucks making their way from Iran to Syria, as part of international sanctions against the Assad regime brought on by the army’s bloody repression of protests across the country. The United Nations estimates that more than 5,000 protestors have been killed since the crisis began last March.
On Tuesday, a former member of the Arab League team of observers said in an interview that he had left the mission to oversee an Arab League-negotiated cease-fire agreement because it was a “farce,” manipulated repeatedly by the Syrian government.
The same day, in a rare public speech, Assad blamed foreign conspirators for the ongoing protests and battles with Syrian army defectors, insisting that he would crush them “with an iron hand” and “declare victory soon”.
At the same time, Israeli army chief of staff Benny Gantz told the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee that the army was preparing for Assad’s ouster, after which Gantz said thousands of Assad’s fellow minority Allawites could try to flee to Israel.