WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, this morning released the following statement:
“We are profoundly concerned that unilateral U.S. concessions regarding a tenable path forward in Syria will further undermine civilian protection, empower Iran, and jeopardize Israel’s security. We therefore call on President Trump to reject any Russian demands with respect to Syria. We urge President Trump to demand that President Putin uphold and implement Russian obligations related to Iranian presence in Syria and commit to a political process that ends the conflict.
“Putin’s lifeline to Assad is the reason his brutal regime has survived. Together with Iran and Hezbollah, Russia’s toxic partnerships have fomented regional instability, created a massive humanitarian catastrophe, and enabled the use of chemical weapons and deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian structures.
“Despite Putin’s hollow pledges to fight ISIL and al-Qaeda in Syria, his true aim is ensuring the survival of Assad. If Assad remains in Syria, the fight against ISIS and other extremist groups will never end.
“The Trump Administration can and should do more to compel the regime and its enablers to commit to a political process and a diminished Iranian role in Syria. The Administration should also release pending funds for Syria stabilization and assistance programs and activities. Without investing in these programs, there is little hope for a stable and secure Syria, which will have lasting implications for U.S. interests in the region.
“The war in Syria will only end with an inclusive political settlement. To help achieve this outcome, we are committed to enacting the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which would impose harsh sanctions on industries that benefit from or fuel the Assad regime’s war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
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