WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement on the recent announcement that the removal of Bashar al-Assad is no longer an American priority:
“I am profoundly disappointed by the Trump Administration's change in Syria policy.
“Assad's hands are stained with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. He has used chemical weapons against his own people. His tactics, such as using barrel bombs loaded with shrapnel, are designed to cause the most possible harm to civilians.
“Accepting Assad in Syria also opens the door to more violence and a new generation of extremists who will learn to hate America. Assad creates more terrorists than he kills.
“And at a time when the United States seeks to push back on Iran in the region, the Trump Administration is empowering Tehran's most useful friend and ally. President Trump and Secretary Tillerson must immediately clarify how they intend to counter Iran's seemingly permanent presence in Syria when they just announced that the United States would be placing itself on the sideline.
“Assad is not a partner. He is not a legitimate leader. He is a butcher. And today, Assad, along with his partners in Moscow and Tehran, are cheering America's new policy, while the people of Syria are denied justice.
“I never held back criticizing the Obama Administration's lack of response to Assad's brutality. But for this new Administration to look the other way in the face of this carnage is nothing short of moral cowardice. If this is America's role on the world stage, shame on us.”
Last week, Representative Engel reintroduced the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (H.R. 1677), which would impose sanctions on those who support Assad’s campaign of violence.