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This week members of Congress announced two bills to increase aid to Syrians. Senators Casey and Rubio announced their bill, the Syrian Democratic Transition Act of 2013, this past Monday. The bill increases humanitarian assistance to Syrian victims and non-lethal aid to Syrian opposition groups. On Thursday, Rep. Engel and Rep. Rogers dropped their bill, HR 1327-the Free Syria Act of 2013, on the floor of the House of Representatives. The major difference of this bill is that it authorizes the President to send lethal military aid to Syrian opposition forces vetted by the government. More information on each bill is provided on the following page.
Representative Engel (NY-16) sent this message that was read during the Hand in Hand Banquet commemorating the second anniversary of the Syrian Revolution. Below is the text of the speech that was read by political director of SETF, Mouaz Mustafa.
I hoped to be with you today in order to celebrate with you the efforts and struggles you all have undertaken in advocating for your brave revolution against Bashar Al Assad’s brutal regime.
Your advocacy efforts have greatly influenced members of the United States Congress, including me personally, allowing us to understand the reality of what is happening on the ground. I have been and continue to be one of the strongest advocates for ending any support or sources of funding for the Assad Regime. I am proud to have been the author of the 2003 Syria Accountability and Lebanon Sovereignty Restoration Act, which led to the first serious sanctions against the Assad regime. I think of it as the first nail in the regime’s coffin, just as your revolution will be the final nail.
Join the Syrian Emergency Task Force, United for Free Syria, and STAND on Friday March 15th in calling Secretary Kerry. Secretary Kerry recently announced $60 million in aid to go through the Syrian Opposition Council. While this is an important step in the right direction, it is not enough. Help us remind the United States Government that after two years, 70,000 deaths, 1 million refugees, and 2.5 million IDPs, more needs to be done to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.
A recent Guardian UK article reported the presence of British and French instructors training Syrian rebels in Jordan under a program directed by the the US government. While no official statements have come from these governments to verify this project, Jordanian and European sources have confirmed that training has been going on for at least a year and has focused on preparing Syrian generals who have defected. These Western-trained soldiers will not be sent to Syria immediately according to a Jordanian source. However, if any Syrian city in the south completely collapses, these forces would move into the city to provide assistance. The easing of America's regulations on weapon movements has also been witnessed by Syrian rebels recently. The US has started to allow the rebels to transport anti-aircraft missiles that were once impounded across the Turkish border.