Israeli minister says time has come to assassinate Syria's Assad

According to Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant, President Bashar al-Assad (pictured) should be eliminated. PHOTO: REUTERS

TEL AVIV (BLOOMBERG) - President Bashar al-Assad should be eliminated to stop the atrocities taking place in Syria, according to an Israeli minister.

Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant, a retired major general who led the Israel Defence Forces' southern command, which includes the Gaza Strip, pointed to US allegations that the Assad regime built a crematorium at a prison outside Damascus to cover up mass murders. The Syrian government has denied the US claim.

When asked who Mr Gallant thinks should do the killing, his spokeswoman declined to elaborate.

"The reality of the situation today in Syria, in which they are executing people, using chemical attacks against them, and the latest extreme measure - burning their corpses, something which we haven't seen in 70 years in this world - we're crossing a red line," Mr Gallant said on Tuesday (May 16) at a military conference in Israel. "In my opinion, it's time to eliminate Assad."

After cutting off what he described as "the snake's tail", then "we'll be able to get to its head, which sits in Teheran",Mr Gallant said.

The comments - among the strongest by any member of the Israeli government - highlight growing pressure from US allies in the Middle East to confront Mr Assad and his main regional backer, Iran, as US President Donald Trump prepares to visit the region next week.

Israel for now has stayed clear of large-scale intervention in Syria, preferring to target weapons passing through the country en route to Hizbollah militants in Lebanon.

It also has struck back at Mr Assad's army in southern Syria when shells land in the Israeli-controlled territories of the Golan Heights.

Prime Minister Benjamin Mr Netanyahu's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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