The US House of Representatives passed on Wednesday (May 17) the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act (H.R.1677), which seeks to impose sanctions on supporters of Assad regime, encourage negotiations to end ongoing atrocities, and support prosecution of war criminals.
According the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (the Foreign Relations Committee), the bipartisan bill, which was introduced by the Democratic Ranking Member Eliot Engel and Chairman Ed Royce, a Republican, was passed without objections.
The Foreign Relations Committee published in press release Wednesday (May 17) on its website Chairman Royce’s remarks before the vote on the bill.
Royce explained why the bill has been introduced and pointed out how Syrians have been suffering for six years at the hands of Assad regime.
“For six years, we have watched the Syrian regime launch wave after wave of unrelenting destruction on the people of Syria. Airstrikes, chemical weapons attacks, forced starvation, industrial-scale torture, and the deliberate targeting of hospitals, schools and marketplaces with precision bombs and crude barrel bombs are what Syrians suffer every day,” Chairman Royce said.
Royce stressed that while ISIS plays a role in the violence in Syria, Assad regime and its backers, including Russia, Iran and Hezbollah remain the main drivers of death and destruction in the country.
In his remarks, Chairman Royce also said that what is happening in Syria puts vital US national security interests at stake, as Assad’s brutality is “a magnet for terrorist recruitment and a destabilizing force driving millions of refugees out of the country.”
Royce further elaborated on the bill, saying that it is designed to increase the cost to Assad and his outside backers by targeting the sectors of the economy that allow Assad to murder with impunity.
“Under the bill, foreign companies and banks will have to choose between doing business with the regime or with the United States. It would also sanction anyone who flies weapons or fighters into Syria to support the Assad regime,” he explained.
Royce pointed out that Russia and Iran proclaimed themselves the “guarantors” of peace, and promised to create “de-escalation zones” in Syria, but these zones would be policed by the Assad army – supported by Russian military police, Hezbollah terrorists, and IRGC commanders backed by Shiite militias, who are “the very same people who have murdered thousands of Syrian civilians with impunity” and “who are actively engaged in fomenting sectarian-based violence throughout the region.”
“As long as Assad and his backers can slaughter the people of Syria with no consequences, there is no hope for peace,” Royce said.