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Congressman Steve Israel

Representing the 3rd District of NEW YORK

Rep. Israel's Position on Syria

Given all the recent news about developments related to Syria, I wanted to update you on my position.  I encourage you to share your thoughts with me by calling my office or emailing me through my website. You can also follow me on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael for the latest updates.

Russia's call for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons was a positive development, and I urged the Administration to engage Russia and our international partners to ensure that any agreement included a transparent, enforceable and effective way to secure Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles and production facilities, so that they may not be used again.  The United Nations Security Council has since approved by a unanimous vote a resolution requiring Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons and international inspectors have begun the process of removing, dismantling and destroying these weapons and production facilities.  As I've said repeatedly, diplomacy should always be the first preference.  It's clear that the credible prospect of force to hold Syria accountable for its use of chemical weapons prompted Moscow to propose a path forward. 
I strongly hope that this agreement succeeds.  My objective has always been focused on one thing: deterring and degrading Syria's chemical weapons capabilities.

Here is why:

First, because Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons repeatedly, and with each new attack that went unanswered by the international community, more innocent men, women, and children were murdered. The gassing of civilians on August 21, resulting in the death of more than 400 children, is the culmination of Assad's crimes. Without a firm response and in the absence of an international agreement, Assad will feel emboldened to continue gassing people and murder even more innocents.

Second, because we don't want Syria's chemical weapons to fall into the wrong hands -- including some elements of the rebel forces in Syria. This isn't about one side or the other in Syria's civil war. This is about minimizing the chances that any side uses chemical weapons.

Third, it is imperative that we reinforce our message to Hezbollah, Iran and North Korea that there will be consequences should either of them ignore decades of international law and opt to use chemical weapons.  

Finally, I want to stress that I have consistently helped lead non-military efforts to promote human rights, security, and stability within Syria. Back in 2012, I introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for Assad to be tried before the International Criminal Court and I cosponsored legislation to impose economic sanctions on the Syrian regime.

Again, I  hope that the Syrian regime will abide by the terms of the United Nations Security Council resolution and will fully cooperate with the process of removing, dismantling and destroying its chemical weapons program.