BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement ahead of a U.S. -Russian negotiated ceasefire in Syria, set to begin Monday evening:
“I welcome the announcement that a ceasefire agreement has been reached between the United States and Russia in Syria, to begin on September 12. The scale of suffering and scope of war crimes committed over the course of the Syrian conflict is deplorable. The violence must stop. I urge all combatants to adhere to the ceasefire and immediately enable humanitarian access.
“I am skeptical that Russia is both willing and capable of grounding Bashar al-Assad's air force or working productively for a return to political talks. If Russia does not take these steps, I cannot support counterterrorism cooperation with them.
“However, I believe that we must test the premise that Russia can deliver on its commitments. I urge the Syrian opposition to commit to the ceasefire and distance itself from Nusra Front.
“Ultimately, I support efforts that pave the way for a return to political talks. The Syrian people deserve a representative government responsive to their legitimate needs. The Assad regime has no place in a future Syria. Its actions have terrorized the Syrian people and opened the door to violent extremist groups like ISIL and Nusra Front. Assad and his regime must be held accountable for its crimes against humanity and leave Syria.”