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Lawmakers Hear About U.S. Policy Towards Syria

Treasury & State Dept. officials testify

Washington, DC
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Senate subcommittee held a hearing on U.S. policy toward Syria as citizen-led protests continue there. Jeffrey Feltman, undersecretary at the State Department, said, "What Assad is trying to do is turn this peaceful protest into an insurgency.” Feltman said Assad is using violence against protesters to entice them to use violence in retaliation.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department, Luke Bronin, said sanctions against Syria are working to cut off the the Assad government's finances, especially sanctions imposed by the European Union. "Their impact has been dramatic... mostly because of oil," Bronin said. He said Russia and China, who blocked a resolution of disapproval in the United Nation's Security Council, need to stop trading and working with the Syrian government. 

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, and other committee members questioned the administration officials about U.S. diplomatic policy and their message to the Assad regime.  Feltman said, "It’s time for Bashar al-Assad to step aside. He’s gone past the point of no return."

U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford was brought back to Washington from his post in Syria due to security concerns. According to some estimates, Assad has killed 3500 Syrian citizens.

Updated: Friday, November 11, 2011 at 3:37pm (ET)

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