- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 27, 2020

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers are leading new calls for the Trump administration to urge U.S. allies to oppose efforts to renew diplomatic relations with Syria.

The move, led by Reps. Eliot Engel, New York Democrat, and Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, follows a recent wave of unspecified U.S. allies committing to maintain formal relations with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The regime and its allies, Russia and Iran, are guilty of barbaric violence against the Syrian people. International organizations and human rights groups have documented the use of chemical weapons against civilians, indiscriminate bombing of civilian infrastructure, deliberate use of siege tactics, and mass torture,” the pair, who leads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Monday.

“Given the regime’s continued deplorable crimes against its own people, we urge the Department of State to continue to make clear — publicly and privately — to our allies and partners that the U.S. opposes any efforts to renew diplomatic ties with or extend formal diplomatic recognition to the Assad regime,” they wrote.

Over two dozen lawmakers on both sides of the aisle backed the call, including Reps. Ted Deutch, Florida Democrat, Gregory Meeks, New York Democrat, Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Republican, and Ted Yoho, Florida Republican.

The lawmakers called on Syria to end bombing of civilian areas, release political prisoners, end support for terrorist organizations and allow “unfettered access” to the United Nations and other international observers to verify that nuclear research has ended.

“No one could argue that the regime has abandoned the devastating tactics that originally led the international community to ostracize it,” they wrote. “We are alarmed by efforts of some in the Middle East and beyond to extend formal diplomatic recognition to the Assad regime.”

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