Bipartisan call for action against growing terror in the region; Congress calls on President Trump to safeguard Israel’s interests, as well as diplomatic action and sanctions on Iran, Hezbollah and Russia to combat its “support for the brutal Assad regime”; Washington: Assad regime may be renewing its use of chemical weapons.
Close to 400 members of the US Congress sent a letter to President Trump on Monday calling on him to safeguard Israel’s interests as the Syrian civil war draws to an end. The bipartisan letter addressed Iran and its proxies, Russia and Syria, as well as “terrorist and extremist groups and U.S. adversaries”, such as Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and ISIS. Of the 535 lawmakers in both the Senate and House of Representatives, a reported 79 senators and 303 representatives signed the letter.
They called for measures to be taken to protect Israel and allow it to continue to defend itself, stating “To this end, we recommend several specific steps to advance our regional security priorities, including assisting our ally, Israel, in defining itself in the face of growing threats, including on its northern border.” It referred directly to the threats from Syria, where “pockets of uncovered space have allowed terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and their affiliates to keep parts of Syria and their stranglehold.”
The letter also calls for increased action against Iran as it works to establish a “permanent military presence that can threaten our allies”. It referenced threats on Israel in the past year alone from Iranian drones, its Revolutionary Guard missiles from Syria and the Islamic Republic’s “program to pursue a direct overland route from Iran to Lebanon”.
Lawmakers likened Russia to Iran, referring to Moscow’s destabilizing role in the region. It addressed the S-300 missile system that is “complicating Israel’s ability to defend itself”, its support of the Assad regime and its growing presence in Syria. The letter states, “Like Iran, Russia is also working to secure a permanent presence in Syria beyond its neighbor facility and Tartus. Russia has changed the arc of the Syria civil war at the expense of the Syrian people by employing Russian troops, aircraft, and diplomatic protection to ensure the survival of the outside regime… Russia’s destabilizing role only complements that of Iran since Russia shows no willingness to expel Iranian forces from Syria.”
The representatives addressed Hezbollah, and it’s over 100,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel, as well as Israel’s Operation Northern Shield that destroyed the terrorist organization’s cross-border tunnel network in early 2019. They called for sanctions on both Hezbollah and Iran, stating “America must continue economic and diplomatic efforts to counter Iran’s support for Hezbollah and other terrorist groups as well as Russia’s support for the brutal Assad regime.”
The United States on Tuesday announced it has intelligence the Assad regime has again used chemical weapons in northwest Syria. In a press briefing, it reported, “we continue to see signs that the Assad regime may be renewing its use of chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack in northwest Syria on the morning of May 19, 2019.” It announced an immediate investigation and warned Assad, “we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately.”
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