Lawmakers to Obama: Withdraw recognition of Assad regime

Top leaders on the House Foreign Affairs Committee introduced a bipartisan resolution Friday that urges the Obama administration to withdraw recognition of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. 

Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) introduced the resolution in the House. It also calls for an end to attacks on Syrian civilians, expanded humanitarian access and for a more engaged strategy by the United States. 

“Syria is a humanitarian and human rights disaster,” Royce said in a statement. “It is beyond time for the Administration to withdraw recognition of the Assad regime in response to the atrocities it is intentionally inflicting upon Syrian civilians. The Administration must put forth a strategy to address this crisis. It’s a matter of national security.” 

Engel said he hopes the administration will be compelled to unveil a more detailed strategy on Syria given the new resolution and a bill he had introduced that would aid Syrian rebels. 

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“Three years is too long for anyone to be able withstand this kind of violence,” Engel said. 

The two lawmakers called on President Obama to develop and submit a clearer strategy to Congress within 60 days if the resolution is adopted.

Syria’s civil war has left more than 100,000 people dead since it began in early 2011. The United Nations decided in January to stop updating the death toll because it's been difficult for international observers to gain access on the ground. 

The resolution came the same day that a bipartisan group of senators urged Obama to reformulate his strategy on Syria. 

In a letter, the senators said the administration should change the balance of power on the ground in Syria to break the conflict's stalemate. The letter was signed by top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees. 

“Events on the ground are proving that [humanitarian aid] is not enough, as the Assad regime escalates its attacks against civilians and refuses to allow humanitarian relief to reach those in need,” the letter read.

The Obama administration, however, has been skeptical about providing military equipment to the rebels because of concerns that al Qaeda elements have gained power in their circles. 

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon asked Russia and the U.S. this week to help reinvigorate peace talks, which stalled between the U.N. and Arab League earlier this year.