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Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed H. Res. 1165, which condemns the Assad regime and its backers for their continued support of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.
On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Ed Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“This resolution represents broad, bipartisan agreement that there will be no peace in Syria as long as the Assad regime remains in power, and as long as Russia and Iran continue their entrenchment in that country.
For seven years, the world has watched the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad inflict untold suffering on the Syrian people. Since the beginning of the conflict, half a million people have been killed and 13 million – largely women and children – remain in dire need of basic humanitarian assistance in Syria.
The brutal Assad regime continues its onslaught on the civilian population in Syria aided by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the ground and the Russian Air Force in the sky.
Rather than working to eject Iran from Syria, Russia has been directly coordinating with Hezbollah, the IRGC and other Iranian-backed militias that have expanded significantly throughout Syria. Russia has even now reportedly transferred the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria, giving these militias additional cover for their activities in Syria.
Despite signing a de-escalation agreement with President Trump last year promising a ceasefire in southern Syria, Russia directly assisted Iranian-backed militias in their takeover of southern Syria – moving these militias right up to the border with Israel.
This resolution makes clear that it is unrealistic to believe that Russia will ever be a reliable partner to counter the Iranian presence in Syria. As Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has stated so clearly, ‘it’s unlikely Russia has the will or capability to fully implement and counter Iranian decision and influence’ in Syria.
This resolution also states that Iranian-backed militias should be investigated for the war crime of sectarian cleansing for their forced displacement of civilians in the Damascus suburbs, which has included demolishing civilian areas, implementing brutal sieges and selling housing developments to Iranian-backed militias.
Finally, this resolution calls for the administration to act quickly to develop a strategy towards a political transition in Syria where the Assad regime leaves power and all Iranian and Russian forces leave the country.
The Assad regime’s atrocities – which include the use of chemical weapons, barrel bombs and brutal sieges – helped create the conditions whereby ISIS emerged in the first place. The regime’s continued survival, along with the Iranian influence in Syria, will only perpetuate the cycle of violence, once again creating the conditions for the re-emergence of ISIS, al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups.
After seven years of horror, U.S. policy in Syria should be guided by this key reality: there is no solution to the conflict in Syria as long as the brutal Assad regime remains in power. Efforts to legitimize the regime through so-called ‘constitutional reform’ negotiations, or allowing Assad to run in elections, are unrealistic and doomed to fail.”