Day 1,117: Tony Blair thinks the West should have intervened in Syria


Emergency responders help evacuate a Syrian boy from a residential building reportedly hit by an explosives-filled barrel dropped by a government forces helicopter in the Shaar neighborhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.


Khaled Khatib

Today is Day 1,117 of the Syria conflict. 

Over the weekend, clashes in Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp killed one, a car bomb in the Syrian city of Homs killed 29, shelling in Damascus killed two, and attacks on Aleppo continued (photo above), allegedly killing 20. Activists in Aleppo, inspired by the Armenian community's #SaveKasab Twitter campaign for a predominantly Armenian town near the Turkish border (backstory here), launched a #SaveAleppo campaign. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri seems to have taken to YouTube Friday to call for an end to infighting among Islamist rebels in Syria, and also to ask fighters to find out who killed Al Qaeda's "chief representative" in Syria, Khaled al-Suri, in February. (Al-Suri was killed by suicide bombers. Rival rebel groups are suspected.) Seymour Hersh, known for his skepticism that the Syrian government was actually behind the chemical weapons attacks of last summer, has a new piece out accusing the Turkish government of having staged the attacks to draw the Obama administration into action. GlobalPost reviewed the controversy over the sarin attacks in detail here — Hersh isn't the only one skeptical of the official account. That said, this latest piece goes several steps further than his last one in December, which was turned down by both The New Yorker and The Washington Post before being accepted by the London Review of Books. Expect rebuttals in the coming days.

That was the weekend. Monday is opening no better. 

In Homs, a masked militant gunned down an elderly Dutch priest inside a monastery. The priest was known for his Facebook activism on behalf of civilians in the city.

In Lebanon, the head of the Shia group Hezbollah, which has been fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, dismissed claims of recent rebel gains. He also said that Assad will stand for election this year, and defended Hezbollah's involvement in the conflict, saying the Lebanese people know that "intervention in Syria protects Lebanon from the terrorist groups whose behavior and actions we see on a daily basis." Suicide bombings in retaliation for Hezbollah's involvement in Syria have become common in Lebanon: See GlobalPost correspondent Tracey Shelton's chilling reports from Beirut and Hermel for details.

Finally, in the UK, former Prime Minister Tony Blair told BBC Radio 4 that the "consequences" from failing to intervene in Syria have been "terrible" and "will be a huge problem not just for the Middle East region but for us in the years to come." Blair supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which is now very unpopular in the UK.

Blair's statement was strong as compared to the milquetoast UN response to the Zaatari clashes: The refugee agency said on Sunday that it was "dismayed."

The conflict continues.