As questions arise about whether Syria will follow through on its promise to accept the proposed peace plan, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a congressional resolution on Wednesday condemning the Syrian government "for crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations. "
The Obama administration has struggled with how far it can go in accusing Syria's president Bashar al-Assad of war crimes, as Elise Labott reported last week.
U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, have called for "foreign airpower" to stop the government "slaughter" and save innocent lives. They also called for establishing safe havens that could serve as bases for military aid.
The resolution calls for:
(1) condemns the mass atrocities and severe human rights abuses being perpetrated against the people of Syria by Bashar al-Assad and his followers;
(2) recognizes that the people of Syria have an inherent right to defend themselves against the campaign of violence being conducted by the Assad regime;
(3) supports calls by Arab leaders to provide the people of Syria with the means to defend themselves against Bashar al-Assad and his forces, including through the provision of weapons and other material support, and calls on the President to work closely with regional partners to implement these efforts effectively;
(4) urges the President to take all necessary precautions to ensure that any support for the Syrian opposition does not benefit individuals in Syria who are aligned with al Qaeda or associated movements, or who have committed human rights abuses;
(5) affirms that the establishment of safe havens for people from Syria, as contemplated by governments in the Middle East, would be an important step to save Syrian lives and to help bring an end to Mr. Assad’s killing of civilians in Syria, and calls on the President to consult urgently and thoroughly with regional allies on whether, how, and where to create such safe havens;
(6) urges the President, as part of an international effort to hold senior officials in Syria accountable for mass atrocities, to:
a) gather information about such mass atrocities, including gross human rights violations, use of force against civilians, torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary executions, sexual violence, and interference with access to medical treatment;
b) continue to take actions to ensure that senior officials in the Government of Syria and other individuals responsible for mass atrocities in Syria are held accountable, including by using the authority provided under Executive Order 13572 and Executive Order 13573 to designate additional individuals;
(7) urges the Atrocities Prevention Board, once it is formally constituted by the President as called for in Presidential Study Directive-10, to provide recommendations concerning measures to prevent continued mass atrocities in Syria; and
(8) commends the establishment of the “Friends of the Syrian People” Contact Group and other international diplomatic efforts to end the violence and support a peaceful transition to democracy in Syria, and reaffirms the necessity of the departure from power of Bashar al-Assad.