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Executive Summary for November 16th

We review key events related to Syria, including the U.S. passing a bill sanctioning the Syrian government and its allies, the U.N. special envoy warning that a government military victory will encourage terrorism and Russia and the government launching new offensives.

Published on Nov. 16, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

New U.S. Sanctions Target Assad and Allies

The U.S. passed a bill sanctioning the Syrian government and its allies on Tuesday, Al Jazeera reported.

The House of Representatives passed a bill sanctioning the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and its supporters on accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Syrian conflict, now in its sixth year.

“We can see the ethnic cleansing going on. Even the U.N. calls this ‘crimes of historic proportions,’” said Republican Ed Royce, chairman of the foreign affairs committee and the bill’s lead sponsor. “Enough is enough.”

The legislation targets anyone who does business with the Syrian government transportation, telecommunications or energy sectors, including anyone who provides aircraft to Syria’s commercial airline.

“We want to go after the things driving the war machine: money, airplanes, spare parts, oil,” said Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House foreign affairs committee.

“Something needs to jolt this crisis out of its bloody status quo. This bill would give the administration more tools to do so. If you’re acting as a lifeline to the Assad regime, you risk getting caught up in the net of our sanctions.”

Complete Assad Military Victory Will Encourage Terrorism, U.N. Envoy Warns

A complete military victory for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in lieu of a political peace deal will expose Syria and Europe to terrorism, warned the U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura, the Guardian reported.

“Solely concentrating [on] a military victory will [lead to] a pyrrhic victory followed by a long-term, low intensity, but extremely painful guerrilla war, in which Syrians continue to die,” de Mistura told the Guardian.

“You will create a space in which, within three months, there will be more people joining Islamic State. You will not win them over unless there is a political solution.”

No single country can handle the cost of reconstructing Syria, de Mistura said, pointing out that the E.U. and the World Bank would not likely cover the costs if the conflict ends solely on Assad’s conditions.

“It certainly won’t be Russia, the U.S. or Iran. It will probably be the World Bank and the E.U.: for one thing, it would be cheaper for the E.U. than having to handle another wave of refugees, but the E.U. will not do it just because the war is over, but because the country has been stabilized through a credible political process,” he said.

Government Renews Strikes on Aleppo, Russia Conducts First Strikes From Aircraft Carrier in Mediterranean

Russia resumed its aerial attacks on Syrian provinces on Tuesday, targeting Homs and Idlib, Agence France-Presse reported.

Jets on board the the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean launched their first strikes with the aim of inflicting heavy damage on “the Islamic State group and the Al-Nusra Front’s positions in Idlib and Homs provinces,” said Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu.

The Syrian government also launched an offensive on Tuesday, targeting eastern Aleppo city with airstrikes for the first time in more than two weeks, Al Jazeera reported. At least 10 people were killed by government airstrikes on rebel-held Aleppo according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a United Kingdom-based monitor.

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