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.
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington D.C.- The Syrian American Council, America's largest and oldest Syrian-American grassroots organization, congratulates the Turkish people for their brave and clear rejection of the military coup attempt against their democratically elected government.
By standing up united in support of their constitutional democracy, the Turkish people and their political leaders have given hope to the people of the Middle East that military dictatorships can no longer be tolerated as a convenient form of government. Turkish democracy appeared healthy and resilient due to the fact that all of the three main opposition parties have acted quickly and unequivocally to reject the military coup.
"The people of the Middle East are no longer ordained to be governed by either a military dictatorship or by a theocracy. We call upon world leader to muster the courage and wisdom needed to uphold the principles of representative democracy in the region instead of political expediency" said Dr. Zaki Lababidi, the government relations chair of the Syrian American Council.
For Questions Contact:
Suzanne Meriden, 714-595-8974
Washington, DC -The Syrian American Council, the oldest and largest grassroots Syrian-American organization, condemns the heart-breaking attacks at the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey which claimed at least 42 innocent lives and injured over 200 people on Tuesday. Though no one has claimed responsibility, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has stated that ISIS is responsible.
Turkey has been hit by a wave of terror attacks by ISIS and a PKK offshoot since the start of 2016, including a suicide bombing at the historic Blue Mosque in Istanbul, a bus bombing in the central square of the capital Ankara, and a rocket attack on a minibus in Diyarbakir, southern Turkey. The upsurge in violence is in many ways a spillover from the vicious attacks being carried out by the Assad regime, Iran-backed militias, and Russia on civilians across the border.
"Unless the Assad regime is uprooted, terror and assassinations in the Middle-East -- tools that Assad and his allies Russia, Iran and Hizbollah have consistently resorted to -- will not stop," said Dr. Zaki Lababidi, SAC's Government Relations Chair.