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Corker: Assad Exploits Unfulfilled Chemical Weapons Agreement to Retain Power in Syria

WASHINGTON – Following the re-election of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Assad’s exploitation of an unfulfilled chemical weapons deal has allowed him to retain power in Syria.

“Assad’s horrific use of poison gas against his own people has allowed him to stay in power by exploiting an unfulfilled chemical weapons deal while continuing to kill tens of thousands of people without consequences,” said Corker. “The administration keeps promising policy shifts and classified briefings on the U.S. strategy in Syria that never materialize, and meanwhile the situation on the ground becomes even more catastrophic, threatening not only the region but potentially the U.S. homeland.”

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on March 26 about U.S. policy in Syria after the failure of Geneva peace talks, Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Corker requested a closed briefing from the administration after State Department officials refused to answer some of the committee’s questions about U.S. involvement in Syria, stating the answers were classified information.  Corker reiterated the request in a subsequent letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, who also pledged to brief the committee on Syria. More than 70 days since the hearing with State Department officials and nearly 60 days since the letter to Secretary Kerry, the committee has yet to receive a briefing on the U.S. strategy in Syria.