The US House of Representatives passed a bill [press release] Wednesday to impose sanctions on supporters of Syria’s Assad regime. Bill 1677 [text, PDF], also known as Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, is hoped to encourage negotiations to end violence and promote the prosecution of war criminals. Chairman Ed Royce delivered a speech on the House floor urging members to vote on the bill and recounted the atrocities people face in Syria. Chairman Royce further stated that, “Syria can’t keep going on and on like this. That’s not in our humanitarian interest, the interest of the region, or America’s national security interest. This has to change.” Supporters of the bill assert that it will halt Assad’s power and end the violent conflict that has led to about 500,000 lives being taken. The bill must still pass the US Senate and be signed by the President before becoming law.
The war in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] continues to have a devastating impact on the country. In April the UN Security Council [official website] conducted emergency talks regarding an alleged chemical attack in Syria that killed numerous civilians [JURIST report]. That same month, Russia vetoed [JURIST report] a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s use of neurological gas against a Syrian town. Also that month, the US military attacked Syria-government airfield with 59 Tomahawk missiles [CNBC News]. In February, according to HRW [advocacy site], the Syrian government conducted [JURIST report] “coordinated chemical attacks” on rebel-controlled portions of Aleppo. In the same month, more than 13,000 prisoners were hanged [JURIST report] in extrajudicial executions over a 5-year period at Saydnaya prison.