U.S. looks to help Syrian civilians, eases sanctions
June 12th, 2013
06:36 PM ET

U.S. looks to help Syrian civilians, eases sanctions

By Jill Dougherty

As the Obama administration debates further help for besieged Syrian opposition fighters, it is moving to aid Syrian civilians in opposition-controlled areas in rebuilding shattered towns and villages.

U.S. officials announced Wednesday they are easing economic sanctions on Syria, allowing the importation of equipment and technology into liberated areas of Syria. The steps are being coordinated through the Departments of State, Commerce, and Treasury.

Secretary of State John Kerry signed a limited waiver of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 that authorizes the export , subject to case-by-case review, of certain U.S. items.

They include commodities, software, and technology related to water supply and sanitation; agricultural production and food processing; power generation; oil and gas production; construction and engineering; transportation; and educational infrastructure.

Companies can apply to the Department of Commerce for licenses to provide those materials. Current sanctions allow the export of food and medicine without a license and medical devices are covered under an existing waiver.

The Treasury Department also will allow Americans to apply for specific licenses that would enable them to participate in certain economic activities in Syria such as oil-related transactions that benefit the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, or its supporters, and transactions involving Syria's agricultural and telecommunications sectors

Treasury also is amending its regulations to authorize the export of services and transfer of funds in support of not-for-profit activities to preserve Syria's cultural heritage sites.

A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on the waivers, said the action is aimed at addressing specific concerns that have come in as well as "because we expect there to be more and more need and more and more demand for these kinds of goods and services going forward."

The official said the waiver does not affect existing regulations related to providing arms to the Syrian opposition.

Kerry, speaking with reporters at the State Department Wednesday after meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, said he had "no new announcements" on any potential decision by President Barack Obama to arm the Syrian opposition.

"I think that there's a unanimity about the importance of trying to find way to peace, not a way to war," he said. "

"The Assad regime is making that very difficult. We will be, as everybody knows and has written about, we're meeting to talk about the various balances in this issue right now. I have nothing to announce about that at this point," Kerry said.

"But clearly the choice of weapons that (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) is engaged in across the board challenge anybody's values and standards of human behavior and we're going have to make judgments for ourselves about how we can help the opposition to be able to deal with that," he said.

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. DeepeThoght

    Obama-backed Syrian jihadists massacre Christian village population – todays news you will not see on CNN.

    June 15, 2013 at 12:27 am | Reply
    • John Geheran

      How true that rings, Deepe Thoght! Try telling that Obama and his henchmen who are bought and paid for the M.I.C. in Washington. Obama sold his moral values upon assuming the Presidency, if he ever had any in the first place!

      June 15, 2013 at 4:13 am | Reply
    • HD

      I saw that. This just gets better and better. Whos better assads regime or rebels.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:04 am | Reply
  2. Saboor

    Too late too little.. Al-Qaida already fully penetrated into rebels.... Israeli attack already created a sense of national unity under dictator Assad

    June 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Reply
    • USMC1371

      Too much no matter what.....not our problem

      June 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Reply
  3. George Patton-2

    it's a done deal, we are shipping arms to rebels, hope they kill bad guys in Syria and Syrian army kill them too.

    June 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Reply
    • Killer O'Bama

      Thank you, Phunnie boy, for your input here. I'm sick and tired of all these humanitarians here who are only concerned with saving lives. After all, they're only Muslims and who in America should care? Besides, war to us is big business!

      June 14, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  4. Matt

    I would send MANPADS until the Migs and rotary air assets stop arriving. See if you bomb Syria take out the air defense and others sites and decamp that is one thing. It all depends what no fly means to me it means denial of access of the enemy from it airspace. If establish a no fly zone to patrol for months. The Russians and Iranians will send MANPADS to Syria and the situation will be reversed. In which case if suffering losses you pull out or get more involved and if the no fly zone goes and the Migs turn up again. In which case you would send MANPADS anyway. It creates a no fly zone and limits his ability to deploy chemical attacks. Which he will do and get bombed anyway in and out quickly.

    June 14, 2013 at 8:07 am | Reply
    • Portland tony

      What a dumb comment this is! Nobody with half a brain or any sense of morality would even advocate such a stupid move. Unfortunately, we have a President along with the majority in Congress bought and paid for by the M.I.C. and that means but one thing, the insane intervention in Syria so the big wigs in Washington can line their pockets!

      June 14, 2013 at 10:09 am | Reply
      • Portland tony

        Hey troll.....The Icon gives you away....either man up or go play in another sandbox!

        June 14, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  5. robroy

    it's simply amazing when the other side(Assad) starts kicking ass in clearly what is a civil war,how other nations are standing around with stun looks and thinking "he(Assad) should be out of the picture by now".As for civilian casualties in this "CIVIL WAR" when the domestic and foreign rats(rebels) do all their business in cities,towns and village's,just exactly where is the government force's to do theirs?Should they send an invitation to the rebels to meet them at sunrise to battle in the Syrian dessert ? when your house is infested with rats,do you hunt them in your backyard ?No folks you hunt them head on,they want to hide in the buildings then so be it.You americans came up with a 2 word phrase during ww2 when you bombed non military sites like Dresden that wiped out 50,000+ civilians,COLLATERAL DAMAGE and life went on,didn't it?

    June 14, 2013 at 5:55 am | Reply
  6. George Patton-2

    if that picture is of some Syrian city, we should simply send the dozers and demolish the Syrian cities, we should provide Syrian people with tents, camel carts, or stuff they could use in desert, but no arms and ammunitions, let them settle score in hand to hand combats.

    June 13, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  7. Navyvet8192

    Whatever happened to that red line in the sand that was drawn if there was evidence of chemical weapons being used on civilians in Syria??? Just another hollow rant from our government I suppose. They are starting to remind me of Kim Jung Un, all bluster and no substance.

    June 13, 2013 at 11:43 am | Reply
    • USMC1371

      They never could prove if it was used. It wasn't just terrorist wanting us to send them weapons.

      June 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • Pete

      @Navyvet8192,how can we be so innocent when Reagan had Donald Rumsfield as special envoy selling weapons and sarin gas to Kadafi,Hussein to use on their own people..Reagan giving a thumbs up to Charlie Wilson senator from Texas selling arms to Afghanistan rebels in their war against Russia that are now used against us..Remember Reagans Iran Contra affair and after CIA crashed a plane loaded with illegal weapons being sent south Reagan said publicly he didn't remember...Boy that alzheimers,dementia deal came just in time didn't it....

      June 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Reply
  8. USMC1369

    If the U.S. is truly serious about helping Syrian civilians, it first needs to quit supplying that riff raft opposing al-Assad either directly or indirectly with arms and ammunition, thus forcing these people to lie down their weapons and negotiate some kind of truce. Next is to let the Russians and even the Chinese move in and help rebuild that country from the ashes of civil war!

    June 13, 2013 at 4:13 am | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Russia will back Asaad to the end. China will do nothing! China only comes into play when they can make money!
      We, the USA, should stay out of this mess. We have nothing to gain here. Let them kill each other, when nothing is left give Syria to Israel! Our congress is controlled by Israel anyway.

      June 13, 2013 at 7:56 am | Reply
      • Pete

        @StanCalif,Russia has a weapons agreement from years ago with Assad that now they're honoring...And I wouldn't doubt if China would help because of their poor record on human right violations they don't mine seeing unnecessary death ,they do it all the time...

        June 14, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  9. SadieHawk

    The US should be helping their own citizens and veterans. We should not be supporting terrorist and rebels in other countries. It will be just like Afghanistan and Iraq.

    June 13, 2013 at 1:57 am | Reply
  10. Portland tony

    Other than the elderly, infirm or children, there are no civilians in a rebellion. You either have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo or you don't. Too much double speak......We built thousands of buildings and infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan. Half are abandoned.

    June 13, 2013 at 12:08 am | Reply
  11. sjdsh

    CNN still supporting their terrorists.No wonder the world hatred for USA is growing daily.

    June 12, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  12. HankP

    Hey, wow, here's an idea. Why not establish a NATO safety society where Syrian citizens that were born and raised there can live in PEACE. I'll bet there are thousands of heart sick Syrians who have no love or either side at this point and just want to be home. I don't see why this rebel induced fiasco has be a one side takes all ultimatum. And if it weren't for our blood thirsty military salivating at the idea of arming another insurgency, we as a true superpower should and could go in there with the right heart and private sector experience to bring the safe zone all the normalcy it deserves. How novel is that? Sure would be the way I would be proud to support. It seems to me like it's totally time for an international law that makes it mandatory that those that don't have any desire to be torn apart and forced into a living hell, should be able to find solace and safety within a dedicated free safe zone that does not have ANY involvement from either of the warring parties. I am so sorry for the good Syrian people who've lost everything because of this fiasco. Just as I felt the same sorrow for the Libyan people who just wanted to live in peace.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Reply
    • USMC1371

      The US needs to stay out.....If nato steps in the US should only contribute what other countries are not one warrior or dime more then the others. Its time for the world to stand on its own.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Reply

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