Senators Introduce Syrian Resolution to Aid, Not Arm, Opposition

(Image Credit: APTN/AP Photo)

Amid the violence in Syria, Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced a resolution today calling for the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and calling on the Obama administration to start providing "substantial material and technical support," to the Syrian opposition.

The resolution does not support arming the opposition, a Senate aide said.

Some lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have called on the administration to arm the opposition, in addition to other support.

The resolution released today does not go that far, and rather these senators believe there is a lot the U.S. can do to help the opposition in terms of providing communications support, helping the political opposition organize, sending humanitarian aid and reporting on abuses inside the country.

The resolution says U.S. assistance should be provided upon request to Syrian organizations that are representative of the people of Syria, make demonstrable commitments to protect human rights and religious freedom, reject terrorism, cooperate with international counterterrorism and nonproliferation efforts, and abstain from destabilizing neighboring countries.

"We need to hasten Assad's departure from power and also lay the groundwork for the difficult path towards a true inclusive democracy," said Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a paper statement announcing the resolution today.

The resolution condemns the Assad regime's human rights violations, calls upon Assad to step down from power, condemns the governments of the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran for providing military and security equipment to Syria, and urges the president to begin taking steps to prepare for the fall of Assad's regime.

The Senate is out of session until Monday afternoon. First movement on this resolution will come Tuesday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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