Royce: Syria a ‘Humanitarian Nightmare’

Image: Royce: Syria a ‘Humanitarian Nightmare’

Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013 11:35 AM

By David Yonkman, Washington Correspondent

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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce says Syria has become a humanitarian nightmare.

The United States has relied too much on the international community in providing support to civilians, and has been largely restricted to areas controlled by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he said.

“That’s absurd,” said Royce, a California Republican. “Syria is a humanitarian nightmare.

“Only recently has the U.S. begun to push food aid directly to the Syrian opposition. That shift should accelerate, dramatically. And I really wonder about providing any humanitarian aid that relies on the Syrian government.”

Royce told a committee hearing Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s policy on Syria has been adrift for “two bloody years,” and the administration is still talking about working with Assad to end the conflict.

“Even today, Secretary [of State John] Kerry talks about Assad coming to the table,” Royce said. “This is the Assad who is bombing, torturing and murdering Syrians. … And there are troubling reports that Assad may be moving to unleash chemical weapons.”

He said Iran and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah are providing a lifeline of weapons and jihadists from outside Syria’s borders to destabilize the country.

Jihadist groups are gaining strength and popularity because they’ve been able to convince too many Syrians they are on their side, he said. They are preparing for the fall of Assad and making inroads at the expense of more moderate elements.

“To avoid such a hostile future Syria — armed with chemical weapons — we need to help better organize and empower the Syrian opposition,” Royce said. “We have let them down, and let down our strategic interests.”

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