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Baird introduces effort to hold war criminal Assad accountable

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Baird (IN-04) joined House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia Chairman Joe Wilson (R-SC) to lead the introduction of legislation that will block the Biden administration from extending or reissuing Syria General License 23, which authorized direct transactions with the Assad regime for 180 days after the February Turkey–Syria earthquake.

“For far too long, the Biden administration’s soft-on-crime foreign policies have had wide-reaching and devastating international effects that have weakened the United States’ standing on the global stage,” said Congressman Baird. “By extending General License 23, the administration is effectively refusing to hold Bashar Al Assad accountable for his unspeakable war crimes and sends a dangerous message to the world that the United States condones this humanitarian crisis. As the world’s leader, we have a responsibility to send a resounding message to all that this despicable conduct will not be tolerated, which is why I am introducing a bill to block this extension.”

“Bashar Al Assad is a war criminal who has faced no accountability for his crimes against the Syrian people. Yet he is increasingly being welcomed back into the international community, particularly by governments in the Middle East," said Chairman McCaul. "Extending General License 23 would undermine our Syria sanctions and send a message that the United States accepts normalization with Assad. That’s why we’re introducing this bill to block the extension of this over-broad license, especially since our Syria sanctions already contain humanitarian exemptions.” 

“The criminal Assad regime has directly benefitted from General License 23 while refusing aid to areas hit hardest by the earthquake,” said Chairman Wilson. In fact, mass murderer Assad and war criminal Putin have relentlessly bombed northwest Syria since the earthquake. Humanitarian exemptions are built into U.S. sanctions, and the Biden administration should not renew this broad license which allows the Assad regime to profit as he continues his assault on the Syrian people.”




On February 9, 2023, in response to the February 6th Turkey-Syria earthquake, the Biden administration issued a Syria General License (GL23) that would authorize sanctions lifts for 180 days on all transactions related to the earthquake. Recently, the administration signaled that it plans to extend this general license despite the devastating humanitarian crisis created and perpetuated by the Assad regime. The general license was set to expire August 8th. The Safeguarding Syrian Sanction Act would:

  • Prevent the administration from renewing or extending GL23 upon enactment of this bill.
  • Require that the Secretary of Treasury and the Secretary of Commerce notify the appropriate committees if there are any changes to any Syria Sanctions Regulations no more than 15 prior of the change effective date.


**This bill would have no effect on future or other General Licenses**

Text of the bill can be found here

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