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More Execution-Style Killings Found in Syria

Days after the massacre in Houla, the Syrian government has committed a new round of killings. The United Nations discovered an additional 13 bodies near Deir al-Zour, killed execution-style, with their hands tied behind their backs.

UN mission chief Maj Gen Robert Mood said he was “deeply disturbed” by the “appalling and inexcusable act” […]

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, has said a further escalation of the conflict in Syria is the likeliest scenario now, with it spreading to other countries in the region. She was speaking after a closed meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

Her British counterpart, Mark Lyall-Grant, said that a third element, including jihadists, was now active in Syria. He called them “spoilers”.

Turkey is expelling all Syrian diplomatic staff from Ankara, a day after a number of Western states announced a co-ordinated series of expulsions in response to the killing of 108 people in Houla last week.

As many as 15,000 people have been killed since the revolt against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad began in March of last year.

15,000. It’s a staggering number. But it’s not likely to lead to any change in policy against Syria by the international community. And that’s simply because the Assad regime cultivated the right allies, as well as having found themselves second in line behind Libya on the intervention pecking order. Russia and China have categorically ruled out any foreign intervention in Syria, but they’ve actually gone further than that, by ruling out any action at the UN Security Council. Given the fact that sanctions and the observer mission haven’t worked to this point, I don’t really know what action the UNSC can take. But there will be no international legitimacy conferred on any mission, making such a mission unlikely to happen.

The likeliest outcome of any interventionist policy at this point would be arming the Syrian rebels. The rebels are a fractious group at this point, however, and we know as little about their intentions as we did in Libya. The British are openly talking about a “jihadist” element, and presumably that would stop them from engaging in the arming.

The UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on the killings in Syria, but I don’t expect much to come out of that either. You don’t have to favor intervention, which looks remote anyway, to acknowledge that this is an utterly tragic situation.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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