House votes to impose new Syria sanctions

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The House passed legislation on Wednesday to impose sanctions on anyone involved with the humanitarian and security crisis in Syria.

Approved by a simple voice vote, the measure slaps new sanctions through 2021 on people who have financial relationships with the Syrian government or businesses controlled by the administration. 

“[President Bashar] Assad’s crimes against humanity cannot go unanswered. With these new sanctions, we will continue to tighten the screws on the Syrian regime and its most prominent backers, including Iran and Russia,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement. 

{mosads}The president would be authorized to waive sanctions on a case-by-case basis if warranted or if peace negotiations are underway, with no more civilian violence.

The bill, authored by Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also directs the president to submit a report to Congress on the potential effectiveness of a no-fly zone over part or all of Syria.

Similar legislation passed in the House last November, but it never came up for a vote in the Senate.

Passage of the sanctions legislation comes a month after President Trump authorized a military strike against a Syrian government airbase in response to a chemical attack.

The Syrian government this week rejected accusations from the U.S. that thousands of political prisoners’ bodies had been cremated at a prison near Damascus to destroy evidence of war crimes. 

Before Wednesday’s vote, the Treasury Department announced this week that it had frozen the assets of several Syrian individuals and companies that provided support to the Syrian government. Americans will also be barred from any transactions with the sanctioned entities.  

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