Daily Israel Report

Former PM: Syria Under Russia, Iran Control

Former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab warned in a BBC interview Wednesday that Syrian policy is controlled by Russia and Iran.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 11/22/2012, 12:01 PM

Former Syrian PM Riyad Hijab
Former Syrian PM Riyad Hijab
Reuters

Former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab warned in a BBC interview Wednesday that Syrian policy is controlled by Russia and Iran.

Hijab defected earlier this year from the Damascus regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and fled to Jordan. Speaking in Amman, he told the BBC that Assad would never voluntarily surrender power even if offered safe passage out of Syria.

"Since the beginning of this crisis, institutions have been marginalized,” Hijab said on the BBC's “HardTALK” program. “Decisions are being made by Bashar al-Assad (personally). Now it is Iran that is running Syria. Iran makes all the decisions.”

Although they did not attend official meetings, Iranian consultants were everywhere, he said. “Iranian experts and the Iranian embassy were present in every aspect of Syrian life.”

Hijab also said that he did not believe Assad will ever surrender power. "He who has already killed tens of thousands of his people and destroyed his country cannot possibly contemplate giving up power now,” he said. “He simply will not do it. We can only hope to see Bashar al-Assad put on trial where he and all the decision makers of the regime will receive just punishment for the crimes they have committed and for Syrian blood they have shed,” he said.

Hijab attended the General Assembly of the Syrian National Council in Doha on November 11, 2012, where Syria's fractious opposition factions put aside their fierce arguments to rally behind a new leader within a new coalition that Western and Arab backers hoped might topple Bashar al-Assad and take over the country. However, earlier this week, a separatist rebel council of 13 Muslim extremist groups declared itself opposed to the coalition and seized control over the northern city of Aleppo, announcing that it had become an independent Islamic state.

Syrian Army warplanes, meanwhile, destroyed a building Wednesday night in the northern commercial hub.  At least 13 people were killed in the missile strike on the structure, located next to the former Dar al-Shifa hospital, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Among the dead were a doctor and two children, the organization said. The building now serves as a field hospital for rebel forces, where civilians also seek treatment. Observatory spokesman Rami Abdul-Rahman said at least 10 rebel fighters were also killed. A second activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, confirmed the air strike.