WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Syrian American Council (SAC), the largest and oldest grassroots Syrian American organization in the United States, calls upon the United States to take quick action, including kicking Russia out of the international SWIFT code system, in response to the Russian government's bombing of civilians in Syria, its attacks on civilian Turkish aid convoys, its repeated violations of Turkish airspace, and its targeting of the Turkmen minority in Syria.
In a statement, SAC President Mirna Barq said:
"The Syrian American Council and Syrian American community join the Turkish American community in condemning Russia's deliberate attacks on Turkish aid convoys, its repeated targeting of the Turkmen minority and other civilians in Syria, and its repeated violations of Turkish airspace. Russia is in flagrant violation of international law, and we stand by Turkey's right to defend itself. As Americans, we call upon the Obama Administration to support our NATO ally.
Furthermore, we deeply condemn the decision by Russia this weekend to impose economic sanctions on Turkey and call upon the United States to take strong steps, such as kicking Russia out of the international SWIFT code system, to force the Putin regime to immediately lift all sanctions on Turkish food and exports. Putin's aggressions on the international stage - in Turkey, Ukraine, and Syria - continue to escalate, and the world must impose penalties until Russia adheres to basic international norms.
Russia's aggression against Syrian civilians is escalating. Yesterday, Russia bombed a crowded vegetable market in the daytime in Ariha, Idlib, where there is no sign of ISIS, massacring over 40 innocent civilians. Recent images show Russia using what seems to be illegal phosphorus bombs against Syrian civilians. According to the IHH, a Turkish humanitarian organization, Russian airstrikes also targeted and destroyed a bakery in Idlib.
Russian air strikes in Syria have killed over 400 civilians since Russia began its aggression on Syria, including at least 97 children. Instead of targeting ISIS, Putin has in fact directly overwhelmingly targeted moderate Syrian rebels fighting both ISIS and the Assad regime. These strikes have actually caused ISIS to expand. Moreover, the U.S. and European Union have sanctioned Russian-Syrian businessman George Haswani for serving as a middle man in oil deals between ISIS and the Syrian regime.
SAC supports calls by Turkey for the creation of a safe zone on the Syrian-Turkish border to protect civilians and refugees from the terror of ISIS, the merciless bombardments of Russian warplanes, and the continued brutal attacks of the Assad regime."