FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2017
The Syrian American Council, America's largest and oldest grassroots Syrian community organization, condemns in the strongest terms possible Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard's (D-HI) recent secret trip to Assad-controlled Syria on a so-called "fact-finding mission." Her trip, which was the first by a U.S. lawmaker since 2011, provides dangerous legitimization to a brutal regime that has caused the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.
January 19, 2017
SAC STATEMENT ON BEN RHODES INTERVIEW IN POLITICO
Outgoing National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes' comments on Syria, published yesterday in Politico Magazine, are nothing short of an effort to rewrite history. Rhodes stated, "I met with the Syrian opposition, and often they would argue that we should work with al-Nusra, who we know is Al Qaeda."
As Government Relations Director of the Syrian American Council, I frequently relayed messages from moderate Syrian opposition figures of all stripes to the White House. I also briefed the National Security Council on multiple occasions. At no point did I hear from my Syrian opposition contacts, who had more cause to speak frankly with me than with Mr. Rhodes, that they desired for the U.S. to work with Al-Qaeda. Furthermore, the National Security Council repeatedly waved off opportunities that I presented to them to weaken extremists and strengthen moderates in Syria.Read more
The Coalition for a Democratic Syria, a group of Syrian-American non-profit organizations working together to bring about a swift end to the conflict and support the establishment of peace, freedom, and democracy in Syria, strongly condemns the deplorable assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov. This heinous crime against a defenseless and civilian diplomat goes against all values of international law and human rights.
Responsible for Aleppo Massacres
Aleppo is on the verge of a massive massacre at the hands of invading Iranian-backed ground force sectarian militias and Assad forces and Russian air forces.
The Obama administration failed policy of appeasement exasperated the tragedy of the Syrian people. In the words of Syrian former Prime Minister Riad Hijab, head of the Higher Negotiation Commission of the Syrian Opposition, 'history will never forgive Obama for his refusal to intervene and stop the crimes against the Syrian people'.
Some 150,000 civilians are under a dangerous siege today. They are crammed into 2 small districts and awaiting a possible massacre after a pro-regime military coalition dominated by Iran-backed foreign fighters and Russian warplanes made rapid gains against rebels in east Aleppo over the past two weeks.
The Syrian American Council (SAC) today condemns the barbaric air raids of Russian and Assad regime warplanes on Aleppo City and again calls for the United States, alongside the world community, to speedily impose a no-fly zone to halt such attacks. Since Thursday, at least 213 civilians have been killed in besieged Aleppo due to air raids with barrel bombs, phosphorous weapons, and "bunker buster" bombs that destroy underground facilities. Most headquarters of the "White Helmets" rescue teams have been destroyed amid casualties so numerous that hospitals are operating beyond capacity.Read more
CDS STANDS WITH SYRIAN HNC IN OUTRAGE AT U.S. COMPLICITY IN DEEPENING REGIME AND RUSSIAN VIOLENCE IN ALEPPO
Washington, DC - The Coalition for a Democratic Syria, a group of Syrian-American nonprofit organizations, stands with the High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian Opposition in outrage at the United States' complicity in the deepening regime and Russian violence in Aleppo.
Emboldened by the lack of U.S. or international response to Russian strikes on UN humanitarian aid convoys early last week, the Assad regime has reiterated its intention to retake the country by force, dispelling already specious claims from Secretary John Kerry that the ceasefire he negotiated with Russian FM Sergei Lavrov earlier this month continued to hold. Over the weekend, regime and Russian forces killed over 300 civilians in Aleppo through near-constant bombardment that outstripped the worst the city has endured at any point in the five-year conflict.Read more
For Immediate Release
The Syrian American Council (SAC) today calls upon the United States and international community to reroute humanitarian aid to Syria outside of UN channels in light of Monday's report by The Guardian detailing repeated violations by UN agencies of sanctions against the Assad regime. The Guardian's report revealed explicit UN violations of US and EU sanctions such as payments to a blood bank run by the Assad regime's defense department, payments to the charity run by Bashar al-Assad's wife Asma, and payments to companies owned by Assad's notoriously corrupt cousin Rami Makhlouf.
For Immediate Release
ANNIVERSARY OF GHOUTA CHEMICAL MASSACRE
Today, the Syrian American Council marks with sadness the third anniversary of the Assad regime's heinous massacre of over 1400 civilians -- the vast majority of them women and children -- in a Sarin nerve gas attack against the people of East and West Ghouta in the suburbs of Damascus. Although three years have passed since that terrible day and the disastrous chemical weapons deal that followed, the victims of the Sarin chemical massacre have yet to see either justice or serious measures from the international community to stop the slaughter.
The Framework for the Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons, which the United States concluded with Russia in lieu of promised "game-changer" strikes against Assad for violating President Obama's chemical "red line," was meant to avert U.S. action in the region and eliminate Assad's chemical stockpiles. It failed on both counts. America is at war with ISIS in both Syria and Iraq because of the vacuum created by U.S. inaction against Assad in September 2013, and, as The Wall Street Journal revealed in July 2015, Assad retained enough Sarin to replicate the 2013 Massacre many times over. Assad has also launched over 100 chemical chlorine attacks since the Sarin Massacre.
Washington, DC - The Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS) expresses its appreciation to the United States Department of Homeland Security for extending and redesignating Temporary Protected Status for the country of Syria. This action, taken partly in response to a March request filed by CDS and the American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS), will allow thousands of Syrians to safely and legally remain and work in the United States without fear of deportation or punishment.The decision extends and redesignates Syria from October 1, 2016 until March 31, 2018. As such, current beneficiaries will retain their status, as long as they continue to meet requirements, while additional Syrians seeking protection will be newly eligible to apply."We extend our deep gratitude to the Department of Homeland Security for renewing its offer to protect Syrians of all stripes fleeing the tyranny of Assad and his allies, as well as the inhumanity of ISIS," said Muna Jondy, CDS Chair of Government Relations. "Safe from the violence in their homeland, Syrians living with the continued welcome of the United States can have the opportunities to work and contribute to creative solutions to bring an end to this brutal conflict."In the upcoming weeks, CDS will host an information session for anyone seeking more information on how to submit a TPS application or to renew their status. Details will follow shortly.
The Syrian American Council today issued an urgent call to action for people of conscience, both Syrian and non-Syrian, to raise their voices in the face of a dramatic uptick in violence in Syria. From the accidental killing of over 85 civilians by U.S. forces on Tuesday; to the regime's imposition of a siege on some 400,000 civilians in Syria's largest city of Aleppo earlier this month; to Russia and the Assad regime's escalating usage of cluster bombs, phosphorous, and napalm on civilians since June -- people of conscience must respond rapidly before such heightened violence becomes the new norm.
We are particularly concerned about the possibility of an impending massacre in Daraya, where over 8,000 civilians live on the verge of starvation after years of siege. Assad regime forces have launched a fierce offensive against the town and are making gains. Civilians are being forced into an ever-smaller and more densely populated area, which the regime then bombards with barrel bombs and missiles to maximize civilian casualties. Local activists in Daraya, a nationwide icon of civil resistance, fear that the regime could conduct house-to-house massacres if the town falls. Thousands of civilians could fall in what may amount to one of the worst single massacres anywhere in the world.
We fear these actions foreshadow what the regime and its allies will do to Aleppo and other besieged areas. The consequences could be on the scale of Srebrenica in Daraya and Rwanda in Aleppo.
SAC is calling all people of faith, good conscience, and conviction to pressure their governments to end the sieges and protect civilians by embracing the following three principles:
PRINCIPLE 1: REAFFIRMING THE SYRIAN PEOPLES’ RIGHT TO FREEDOM
• Speak truth to power by shattering the silence surrounding the war crimes and crimes against humanity being perpetrated against the Syrian people
• Recognize and celebrate the goals and aspirations of the Syrian people: Freedom, Dignity and Respect.
PRINCIPLE 2: STOPPING AIR ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS
• End aerial bombardments on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and market places, by the Assad Regime and its Russian allies. Work with the international community to pressure Russia and the regime to stop their assaults on civilians and support the establishment of safe zones.
PRINCIPLE 3: DEMANDING IMMEDIATE AND FULL HUMANITARIAN ACCESS
• Enable immediate access, both by ground vehicles and by air, to food, water, and medication to all besieged areas in Syria.