The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a legislation to impose sanctions against foreign backers serving as resources to the Assad regime and supporting its human rights abuses.
The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and backed by Rep. Ed Royce of California, the panel’s chairman. It targets key backers of Assad such as Russia and Iran by requiring the president to sanction countries or companies that do business with or provide financing to the Assad government or to Syria’s central bank.
“This legislation 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,” Royce stated on the House floor on Wednesday.
“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,” Royce added.
The bill, also known as Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, is hoped to encourage negotiations to end violence and promote the prosecution of war criminals.
“Assad’s crimes against humanity cannot go unanswered. With these new sanctions, we will continue to tighten the screws on the Syrian regime and its most prominent backers, including Iran and Russia,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement.
Supporters of the bill assert that it will halt Assad’s power and end the violent conflict. The bill must still pass the US Senate and be signed by the President before becoming law.
The bill bears the codename of a former Assad regime military photographer who leaked thousands of photos showing the scale of abuses against detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime.
The legislation comes as last week the United States accused the Assad regime of carrying out mass killings of prisoners in its Sednaya military prison. It will serve as a test to President Trump’s stance on the Assad regime after the President authorized a military strike against an Assad airbase in response to the April 4 chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikoun. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)