ENGEL, ROGERS URGE COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT KEY SYRIA BILL
Measure Authorizes Arming Syrian Opposition
Washington, DC—Eliot Engel, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, today sent a letter to their colleagues asking for their support on the Free Syria Act, which authorizes the President to provide certain arms to the carefully vetted Syrian rebels.
The text of the letter follows:
The atrocities in Syria continue, with no end in sight. More than 70,000 Syrians have died, more than one million are refugees, and at least 2.5 million are internally displaced. More than 10% of the population has been driven from their homes, with many of the rest suffering severe deprivation. Every day the Assad regime remains in power further prolongs the Syrian conflict, threatens the civilian population of Syria, and destabilizes the region. The departure of the Assad regime would allow for the possible cessation of hostilities and a resolution to the crisis and would deal an important strategic setback to Syria’s patron, Iran.
The United States must demonstrate to the Syrian people that we remain committed to ending the slaughter in Syria and helping them achieve a peaceful transition to a post-Assad Syria. Without such efforts, the humanitarian disaster will continue and the national security threat to the US will increase. The United States would have a minimal role to play in Syria’s future, and would have little power to stop the rise of extremists or address the growing risk of chemical and biological weapons in the country.
It is time for the United States to lead the international community with a comprehensive plan to achieve sustainable security and stability in Syria that—at this point in time—can only be accomplished with the departure of the Assad regime. This means not only more humanitarian aid for the victims of Assad’s brutality, but also increased support, including training and equipment, both lethal and nonlethal, to carefully vetted opposition forces. Greater US involvement would strengthen the capability of the Syrian Military Council, enabling its Free Syria Army fighters to undermine Assad’s forces, and create the conditions needed for stability in a post-Assad Syria.
We have introduced the Free Syria Act (HR 1327) which authorizes expanded humanitarian aid; provides economic assistance to opposition-allied local coordination committees, so that they can provide basic services for their communities and thus weaken the appeal of extremist groups; authorizes the President to train and equip carefully vetted Syrian opposition fighters; and provides incentives for the emergence of a stable, representative government in a post-Assad Syria.
For more information about the legislation, or if you would like to cosponsor, please have your staff contact Robert Marcus on the Democratic staff of the Foreign Affairs Committee, or Katie Wheelbarger on the Republican Staff of the Intelligence Committee.
ELIOT L. ENGEL
Committee on Foreign Affairs
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence