A Syrian defector pleads with U.S. lawmakers to stop Assad terror by enforcing tough measures against Syria’s government over atrocities it committed during its civil war. The defector became a sensation when he smuggled thousands of photographs of torture out of the country, helping prompt new U.S. sanctions.
The defector, known only by the code-name “Caesar,” said amid tight security at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing:
We have worked and we continue to work in order to bring the pleas and the screams of tens of thousands of those that remain in detention.
Both the Senate panel and the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee held hearings on Wednesday to mark nine years since the start of the civil war in Syria.
The House hearing focused on the crisis in Syria’s northwest Idlib region, not Caesar.
The conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people. It also created millions refugees and devastated entire cities as one truce after the other failed.
CAESAR EXPOSED ASSAD MASS KILLINGS
Caesar smuggled thousands of photographs out of the country in 2013. He exposed the Assad regime mass killings, torture and other crimes. Caesar testified before the House committee in 2014. he helped prompt legislation named after him calling for new sanctions on the government of Syria’s psychotic Baschar al-Assad; as well as Russia and Iran, which support him.
The measure became law as part of a defense authorization bill Trump signed in December. Trump has yet to implement it. In the U.S., some laws are quickly implemented. While others languish depending on who is in power and what interest groups oppose them.
Caesar said activists were grateful for the law, but more must be done.
Caesar said in prepared testimony:
Killing has increased in the same places and in the same ways and at the hands of the very same criminals. And the reason simply is that the Assad regime considered the inaction of the international community and the mere statements of condemnation as a green light for him to continue his crimes.
Representatives from the Syrian Emergency Task Force and the Syria Civil Defense (or White Helmets) also testified in the Senate.
MORE SWEET WORDS BUT NO ACTION
Senator Jim Risch, the committee’s Republican chairman, said he was working with the Trump administration to ensure Trump implements the sanctions. “The Syrian people deserve better,” he said. Hard to believe Senator Risch will do more than say sweet words.
The committee’s top Democrat, Senator Bob Menendez, said he hoped testimony about the war’s impact “pricks the conscience” of the United States.
We have not seen assertive policies from either of the past two administrations.
Reuters contributed to this article.