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Menendez Lauds Committee Passage of Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement following committee passage of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019. The legislation, authored initially by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel, seeks to impose new sanctions on Syria’s Assad regime and its supporters, recognizes the importance of assistance activities, supports efforts to document war crimes, and encourages a political settlement to end the conflict. Since the beginning of the regime’s brutal campaign against the Syrian people in 2011, Senator Menendez has been a leading voice for holding Bashar al-Assad, his facilitators, and those involved in human rights abuses and war crimes accountable for their actions.

Senator Menendez initiated parallel legislation co-sponsored by Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“The Foreign Relations Committee has a responsibility to do everything possible to promote peace, stability, and development in Syria and to hold Assad accountable for butchering his own people. As the people of Syria continue to face unimaginable suffering, this bill sends a clear message to governments and entities providing lifelines to Assad that there will be consequences for enabling his brutality – that includes Russia, Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran-backed Shia militias, and Russian mercenaries.

“The United States must not waver in our condemnation of the Assad regime. I am proud to have worked with the Chairman to introduce the Senate version of this bill, which Chairman Engel has been championing for a number of years, and look forward to swiftly moving this legislation out of Congress so the President can sign it into law.”

Beyond imposing new sanctions, the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 also reaffirms that it is in the interest of the United States to continue providing assistance to the people of Syria and authorizes the State Department to support the collection and preservation of evidence for eventual prosecution of those committing war crimes or crimes against humanity in Syria. Finally, this legislation also provides flexibility for the Administration so that sanctions can be waived for humanitarian work and on a case-by-case basis to ensure a negotiations promoting a tenable, political solution continue.

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act would require the President to impose new sanctions on anyone who:

  • Does business with or provides financing to the Government of Syria, including Syrian intelligence and security services, or the Central Bank of Syria;
  • Provides aircraft or spare parts for aircraft to Syria’s airlines (including financing);
  • Is involved with construction and engineering projects controlled by the Syrian government; or
  • Supports Syria’s energy industry.