Congress’ Syria Study Group Urges Passage of Caesar Act

Interim Report Confirms Assad Has Not Won the War, U.S. Must Respond to Chemical Attacks and Indiscriminate Civilian Targeting with Military Force

May 10, 2019

Washington, DC — In a report out today by a panel of experts created by Congress to study and provide advice on the conflict, the Syria Study Group recommended a series of actions to stabilize the region, including a continued U.S. troop presence and freeze on withdrawal, a military response to indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Idlib, increased economic and diplomatic pressure on the Assad regime and passage of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (H.R. 31/S. 52).

“Congress’ Syria Study Group has pinpointed the immediate and long-term threat to U.S. national security interests: Assad and his backers, Russia and Iran. Recent escalations of violence in Idlib against hospitals, schools and other civilian targets demonstrate Assad will go to any lengths to retake the country and destroy anyone who stands in his way,” said Lina Murad, President of Americans for a Free Syria. “This initial report makes clear that the United States must ramp up its efforts to pressure Assad to bring him to the negotiating table. He has not won the war and his actions and those of his allies only increase the long-term instability of the country. Preventing ISIS’ return, rolling back Iran’s presence, stopping Assad’s war crimes, and encouraging a UN-led peace process should be our nation’s top priorities.

“The message to Congress and the President is clear: it’s time pass the Caesar Act and promise a military response to war crimes committed by Assad in Idlib and throughout the country.”

Key recommendations of the report urge the United States to:

  • Isolate the Assad regime through increased diplomatic and economic pressure, including passage of the Caesar Act (H.R. 31/S.52) and continued denial of reconstruction assistance.

  • Threaten a U.S. and European military response to chemical attacks and other indiscriminate targeting by the regime, Russia and Iran.

  • Support efforts to degrade Iranian capabilities inside Syria, increase economic pressure on Iran and highlight its destabilizing activities in Syria and the region.

  • Ensure complete accountability for all war crimes committed by the Assad regime and its allies through documentation and prosecution.

  • Increase pressure to secure a political transition and reject any attempts by the regime to legitimize phony 2021 elections.

  • Halt U.S. troop withdrawal and bolster civil society to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS.

  • Prioritize the release of detained American citizens in any political negotiation.

  • Support refugee-hosting countries and increase U.S. refugee resettlement numbers.

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.