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Senators Call for Action Against Russia and Syria Following Gas Attack

by Countable | 4.6.17

A bipartisan group of senators are calling for tougher sanctions against Syrian and Russian leaders in response to this week’s deadly chemical attack on innocent civilians in northern Syria. They say the suspected sarin attack is a war crime and are calling on the United Nations to activate a tribunal to investigate the involvement of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"This would never have been possible had they not had the cover that Vladimir Putin has given Assad," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told reporters at the Capitol. “Anyone who supports Bashar al-Assad in doing these sorts of things and tries to cover for him on the international stage and actually votes in international organizations to protect him from sanctions, they are at a minimum accomplices in a war crime.”

Recently, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled that whether Assad remains in power is a question that ultimately must be resolved by Syrians, which Rubio says emboldened the dictator to gas his own people. "If you’re Bashar al-Assad and you read it is no longer a priority of the United States to have you removed from power, I believe that that is an incentive to act with impunity," Rubio added.

But the Trump administration may be changing its policy in Syria after receiving criticisms from Congress. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the assembly that America may take action on its own, especially if Russia continues to block attempts to form an international coalition. "When the UN consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action," Haley said.

President Donald Trump also said the attack "crossed a lot of lines," though he hasn’t outlined any specific policy changes. "These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this horrific attack and all other horrific attacks, for that matter," he told reporters at the White House.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) is teaming up with Rubio to pressure the Trump administration to be more forceful in pressuring Assad and Putin. They also want Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to put a non-binding resolution on Syria on the Senate floor, which they say will highlight the deteriorating situation in Syria while also letting the White House know the Senate is behind taking tougher action in the region.

"We need action. To me it starts with a clear U.S. policy that President Assad has no legitimacy as the leader of Syria, and no future as the leader of Syria," Cardin said at the Capitol on Wednesday.

The text of the resolution condemning the Syrian regime and calling for a political solution is here.

Contact your lawmakers using the "Take Action" button and let them know what you think should be done in Syria.

-- Matt Laslo

(Photo Credit: Kremlin_04.jpg) / Public Domain)

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