Senate Passes Caesar Act to Stop Assad’s Atrocities and Regain American Leverage in Syria

February 5, 2019

Washington, DC — Americans for a Free Syria (AFS) commends today’s passage of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act included within S. 1, the Senate’s first floor vote on this critical legislation since its introduction three years ago.

The vote this week follows the House passage of H.R. 31 and signals continued congressional support for a more robust U.S. Syria policy. Given the announced U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria, the Caesar Act provides the United States new sanctions tools to protect Syrian civilians and counter Iran and Russia’s regional expansion. It holds Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accountable for his horrific war crimes and stifles his ability to access funds from Russia, Iran and others to continue committing human rights atrocities against the Syrian people.

“After three years, the Senate has finally moved to approve the Caesar sanctions, which are one of the best remaining tools the United States can use to deter war crimes in Syria and press for a negotiated peace,” said Jameson Cunningham, Policy and Public Affairs Strategist for Americans for a Free Syria. “The House and Senate need to work together to get these sanctions through Congress and quickly to the President’s desk to ensure civilian lives are protected.”

Testifying in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee today, U.S. Central Command Commander General Joseph Votel endorsed passage of the Caesar Act: “We should continue to keep maximum amount[s] of pressure on the [Assad regime] to protect them from appropriating the atrocities that they have [done] in the past on their own people, so I’m supportive of all measures in that regard.”

The law’s namesake, Syrian forensic photographer “Caesar,” smuggled out more than 50,000 photos of civilians who were brutally tortured and killed in Assad’s prisons, one of the largest single evidence caches ever of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Among the Caesar Act’s provisions are sanctions on the Assad regime and anyone assisting it in carrying out atrocities, sanctions on construction sectors in Syria until the Syrian regime ceases its attacks on civilians and leverage for negotiations through sanctions suspension and renewal authority.

Americans for a Free Syria (AFS) is a non-partisan, non-profit that advocates for human rights, the rule of law and U.S. national security interests in Syria.