Syria Live Coverage: “Assad Must Be Held Accountable for His Crimes”

February 16, 2013  | Scott Lucas in EA Live, EA Middle East and Turkey

Friday’s Syria Live Coverage: Insurgents Advance in South and East, Down Regime Jets

1656 GMT: The Islamic Movement. Claimed footage has been posted of supporters of the Islamist insurgent movement Jabhat al-Nusra calling for an attack on the town of Fou’a, which has a mainly-Shia population.

1208 GMT: Weapons. Bjørn H Jespersen ‏and Mads Dahl have pointed to videos indicating the first appearance among insurgents of foreign-made MANPADS (man-portable air-defence systems).

Blogger Brown Moses evaluates that the MANPADS are Chinese-made, and “the nearest country to Syria that uses this weapon is Sudan, with Malaysia, Cambodia, Peru, and Pakistan being other users”. Given this, there are “some big questions with regards to [the] source”.

0748 GMT: Casualties. The Local Coordination Committees claim 89 people were killed on Friday, including 29 in Damascus and its suburbs and 20 in Idlib Province.

0618 GMT: No Negotiations. An eight-point plan for the resolution of the crisis, released by the opposition National Coalition on Friday, has effectively put any notion of negotiation into the dustbin. In its most striking point, the Coalition insists, “Bashar Assad and [the] security leadership who are responsible for the current destruction of the country are outside the political process and must be held accountable for their crimes.”

So not only will  Assad be forced to step aside in any transitional Government — a condition firmly rejected by the regime and countries such as Russia — the President will face trial on charges such as murder, if not the general “crimes of war”. Earlier this month, opposition head Moaz al-Khatib had offered talks with the regime if it met conditions such as the release of political prisoners.  If that was an opening — and it probably was not, given Assad’s refusal to engage it directly — it is now closed.