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.
The Assad regime's depravity only continues to worsen with the tacit consent of the United States. Just Friday, regime planes bombed the headquarters of the nonpartisan Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets), nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Though Civil Defense officials forewarned U.S. Special Envoy Michael Ratney and his international counterparts upon intercepting regime communications two days before the strike, the State Department apparently made clear that no action would be taken to prevent the attack on the humanitarian volunteers, known for pulling civilians out of rubble.
"We are disgusted by the depths to which this Administration has sunk, sacrificing the lives of Syrian children and aid workers to preserve its failed policy in Syria," said Dr. Yahya Basha, Chairman of CDS. "We echo the call from Dr. Riyad Hijab and his colleagues in the HNC for the United States to pursue whatever means necessary -- military, economic, and diplomatic -- to protect Syrian civilians from sustained attacks."
Dr. Riyad Hijab and members of the HNC attended the UN General Assembly in New York and had intended to visit to Washington this week to meet with U.S. lawmakers but canceled their trip in protest, deciding instead to travel back to the region to attend to the urgent crisis.
One of the items initially on their agenda for their Washington visit was discussion of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (H.R. 5732), introduced in July by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) to put sanctions on Syrian regime war criminals. Though the bill has garnered broad bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, the White House reportedly called on Democratic leadership to postpone the vote for the sake of the ceasefire that collapsed earlier this month. House Democrats have turned to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the hope that, given the change in ground conditions, she may buck the White House and allow a vote on this measure that could increase U.S. leverage in diplomatic negotiations.