21 August 2017

US House approves bills on Iran

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The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to renew a bill that sanctions Iran and a separate piece of legislation that imposes new ones against supporters of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Both bills backed were overwhelmingly approved by the by the Foreign Affairs Committee.

The bills now go to the Senate. If approved, it will be sent to the president.

The Iran Sanctions Extensions Act gives the U.S. the right to punish Iran if it violates the nuclear deal signed last year that curbs Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange of some economic sanctions relief.

The Act was first passed in 1996 but expires at the end of the year. The new bill extends the law for an additional 10 years.

"Now is not the time to ease up on the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," said Republican lawmaker Leonard Lance, according to The Associated Press.

The second bill, titled the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, aims to sanction supporters of Assad, like Russia and Iran.

The act is named after a witness who photographed bodies of imprisoned Syrian rebels after the war started in 2011. Caesar later smuggled his archive out of the country with more than 10,000 photos of tortured Syrians and shared it with the press. In 2014, he testified before Congress where he said he witnessed a "genocidal massacre".

Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce said the bill requires the president to sanction countries or companies that conduct business with or provide financing to the Syrian government.

If negotiations on Syria make progress and violence inside the war-torn country ends, sanctions could be suspended, the legislation says.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity and mounted war crimes against his own people.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed -- and more than 10 million displaced -- across the war-battered country, according to UN figures.

2016.11.16 / 22:29
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