Five years into Syria’s bloody civil war, it is clear that there is no appetite in Washington or European capitals for a more muscular military intervention to stop the Assad regime’s war crimes. But there is no excuse for Washington’s and Brussels’ failure to ramp up sanctions on President Bashar Assad as he continues to massacre his own people.
A new United Nations investigation recently found that Assad used chlorine gas as a chemical weapon — a clear violation of the agreement that Assad struck in 2013 to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons program. The U.N. report came shortly after the world was shocked by the image of a Syrian child in the back of an ambulance, bloodied by Assad’s bombing of Aleppo. Despite recent calls by diplomats for the U.N. to impose sanctions on Syria, Russia’s support for its allies in Damascus means the odds of U.N. sanctions are negligible. The U.S. and Europe should respond by intensifying our own independent pressure on the Assad regime and its international backers.
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