As the civil war in Syria continue to ravage the city of Aleppo, President Barack Obama’s administration continues to sit idly by due to fears of aggravating Russia. But, in order to successfully enforce a ceasefire between the opposing forces in the city to protect civilians caught in the crossfire, the U.S. Congress can act to impose targeted sanctions.
The violent conflict in Aleppo, which has been waging since 2012, has grown worse as the Syrian military forces and its ally Russia continue to carry out assaults and airstrikes on civilian areas in an attempt to drive out rebel forces.
According to a recent report by the BBC, at least 82 civilians have already been killed in these attacks by pro-government forces. It is widely believed many more may have died in other parts of the city.
Earlier this week, a ceasefire deal was reached to allow rebel forces to leave Aleppo. As part of the deal, civilians too were allowed to evacuate the war-torn city. However, instead of implementing the ceasefire, Syrian forces refused to allow civilians to leave and carried out waves of attacks instead.
The U.S. government can actually do something in order to enforce the ceasefire since the parties involved, such as Syria and Russia, have already agreed to it. However, up to now, Obama’s administration has not yet presented concrete efforts to implement the deal in order to provide safe passage for the civilians.
But, if the White House appears to be powerless in this issue, Congress can then step in by publicly condemning the summary killings currently happening in the city. This effort was already led by Republican and Democratic lawmakers Adam Kinzinger, Joaquin Castro, Bradley Byrne, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Adam Schiff, according to The Hill.
But aside from condemning the issue, Congress should also unite in order to pass targeted sanctions on Russia, Syria and the other nations involved if they continue to violate the ceasefire agreement or if they proceed with targeting civilian areas.
The move to protect the residents of Aleppo isn’t just about upholding humanitarian values and stopping genocide. It also has serious implications on the U.S.’s national security since many of the rebel forces fighting in Aleppo are also against ISIS. In addition, the city’s current condition is also propelling the current immigration crisis.