With the country entering its third year of civil warfare, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a plea to the BRICS nations, asking them to help end the conflict.
The BRICS nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, will host a summit later this month. Only Russia has spoken out in support of Assad’s regime since the start of the war.
“Today I passed a message from President Bashar Assad to President Jacob Zuma, who will preside over the March 26 BRICS summit, on the subject of the situation in Syria,” Assad’s spokesman Bouthaina Shaaban told Agence France Presse.
“In this message, President Bashar Assad asks for intervention by the BRICS to stop the violence in his country and encourage the opening of a dialogue, which he wishes to start,” he added.
A top Syrian general responsible for the army’s supplies and logistics announced his defection Saturday, creating another blow to the moral of Syrian troops. Brig. Gen. Mohammed Nour Ezzedeen Khallouf called upon other members of the Syrian military to follow suit, telling Arabic news source Al Arabiya that many regime supporters had already lost faith in the government.
“It is only for appearance’s sake to present an image to the international community showing that the regime is the one that pulls together all segments of Syrian society under,” Khallouf said of Assad’s remaining followers.
The second anniversary of the protests that began the conflict passed quietly last week. Tens of thousands of civilians have been caught in the crossfire between the Free Syrian Army and regime forces.
Human Rights Watch has accused Assad of using cluster bombs against civilians, and is investigating two such attacks this month, which killed 11 civilians and injured 27 others. The group reported that at least 156 cluster bombs have been used in Syria in the last six months.
“Syria is expanding its relentless use of cluster munitions, a banned weapon, and civilians are paying the price with their lives and limbs,” Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch, said according to CNN.