WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement condemning the Assad regime after pro-government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, brutally bombarded a Damascus suburb killing hundreds of people and injuring even more.
“I am appalled and sickened by the escalation in violence the Assad regime and its backers have inflicted in East Ghouta. The number of dead and wounded civilians, including women and children, combined with attacks on medical facilities are staggering and another indication that this regime’s actions amount to war crimes for which it must be held accountable.
“While I support the Administration’s call for all parties to commit to an unconditional de-escalation of violence, and a cessation of violence to allow for unfettered humanitarian access and medical evacuation, these actions are the bare minimum that we should be seeking. I urge the Trump Administration to set its objectives higher and move beyond words and tweets to decisive diplomatic leadership to protect civilians and hold Assad and his backers accountable.
“President Trump still believes that Russia can be a partner in compelling the Assad regime to stop killing the Syrian people, and in diminishing Iran’s role in Syria. He must confront the facts: Russia and Iran have directly supported the escalation in violence over the past 72 hours; facilitating the slaughter of innocent lives.
“Russia is not a partner for ending the war in Syria. Assad and his regime are able to act with impunity because of support from the thugs, criminals, and butchers in Moscow and Tehran. Now is the time to use the authorities from Congress to make it deeply painful for any person still willing to support Assad, and reclaim the mantle of U.S. leadership by galvanizing a political process to end the Syrian war.”