Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
June 17, 2020
- The President signed into law the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019” (the Caesar Act) on December 20, 2019.
- Named after the Syrian photographer who bravely shared with the world thousands of photographs documenting torture in Assad’s prisons, the Caesar Act provides the U.S. government a powerful way to promote accountability for the regime’s atrocities.
- Our sanctions under the Caesar Act and Executive Order 13894 are not intended to harm the Syrian people, but rather to promote accountability for the Assad regime’s violence and destruction that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians; subjected thousands of Syrians to arbitrary detention, the majority of whom remain missing, and many of whom are exposed to torture and sexual violence; and devastated the country’s civilian infrastructure, including homes, hospitals, and marketplaces, resulting in the displacement of over half the population. This Act is meant to send a clear signal that no foreign business should enter into business with or otherwise enrich such a regime.
- Executive Order 13894 includes menu-based sanctions including travel restrictions to the United States and isolation from the United States’ financial system for foreign persons who engage in or finance the obstruction, prevention, or disruption of a ceasefire or political solution to the conflict in Syria and members of their family, among other actions.
- Mandatory sanctions under the Caesar Act target foreign persons who facilitate the Assad regime’s acquisition of goods, services, or technologies that support the regime’s military activities as well as its aviation and oil and gas production industries.
- The Caesar Act also mandates sanctions on those profiting off the Syrian conflict by engaging in reconstruction activities.
- The United States will actively impose and enforce the full range of U.S. sanctions under EO 13894 and our other sanction authorities, including the Caesar Act, against the Assad regime and its enablers in order to exert maximum pressure on the Syrian regime towards full implementation of the political process.
- The sanctions imposed on June 17 are the start of the Administration’s efforts to implement the Caesar Act. We will continue to target those who enable the Assad regime to carry out atrocities and to needlessly prolong the Syrian conflict.
- The Administration is committed to answering the calls of the Syrian people for a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict in line with UNSCR 2254.
- The Assad regime has a choice: take irreversible steps towards a peaceful resolution of the nearly decade-long conflict or face further crippling sanctions.
- The United States Syria sanctions do not generally sanction bona fide humanitarian assistance or activity. The implementation of the Caesar Act continues that practice, including by codifying the general license under the Syrian Sanctions Regulations for NGO humanitarian activity. Rather, the United States’ Syria and Syria-related sanctions prohibitions are designed to deter Bashar al-Assad and his regime from abusing the international financial system and global supply chain to continue brutalizing the Syrian people. We also intend to prevent the Assad regime and its associates from profiteering from the war that the regime itself has thrust upon the Syrian people.
- Since the beginning of our sanctions against the Assad regime, we have provided exemptions for humanitarian aid in all areas of Syria. In fact, there are U.S. government programs working with NGOs to deliver medicines and foodstuff to nearly all parts of Syria, including regime-held areas.
- We remain committed to ensuring that civilians living in Syria are able to receive humanitarian support from the international community.