One Million Displaced in Idlib, Syria: New Refugee Crisis Imminent as Assad Regime Makes Advances

One Million Displaced in Idlib, Syria: New Refugee Crisis Imminent as Assad Regime Makes Advances

Syrian American Council calls on administration to ground air force, impose sanctions and designate terrorist organizations

WASHINGTON D.C., August 26, 2019 – Last week, the Assad regime and its allies took control of the town of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib province in a brutal offensive. With at least three million civilians currently residing in Idlib, including more than one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have already fled violence elsewhere, the regime’s gains threaten to send a new wave of refugees across the border.

The Syrian American Council calls on the Trump administration to take immediate action to ground Assad’s air force in order to stop the senseless murder of civilians. The administration must also take action against Assad’s allies in order to deter their continued participation in these crimes, including: designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism for its continued support of Hezbollah and Iran in Syria, designating Iranian backed militias involved in the assault on Idlib as foreign terrorist organizations, putting sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt, and banning Russian banks from the SWIFT code system.

The regime’s capture of Khan Sheikhoun is a strategic victory for Bashar al-Assad and his allies, as they inch closer toward control of the entire M5 highway between Aleppo and Damascus. Their continued advance also threatens to undermine the implementation of the northern ‘safe zone’ currently being negotiated between the United States and Turkey.

The U.S. administration has condemned the vicious and indiscriminate military campaign being waged by the Assad regime and its allies, but words are no longer enough. Idlib is at a crisis point. In 2017, after the Assad regime launched a chemical attack that killed nearly 90 people and injured hundreds more in Khan Sheikhoun, the administration proved that it is capable of taking strong action on Syria in response to extraordinary circumstances by launching 59 cruise missiles at the base from which the chemical attack was launched and imposing new sanctions on Syria’s chemical weapons program. Now is another such time.

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Michelle R. Taylor
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