Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement today regarding the Assad regime’s failure to hand over its chemical weapons as agreed upon in a deal reached between the United States and Russia last October:
“Bashar al-Assad’s regime has missed another deadline to give up its chemical weapons stockpile for destruction. Assad just keeps giving excuses for breaking promises and compliance requirements, while using the delay to increase his brutality against the Syrian people.
“This is just the latest evidence that the agreement brokered by the United States and Russia has only strengthened Assad. Rather than feeling pressure to leave, with ongoing Russian and Iranian support, Assad has dug in. At talks in Switzerland last month, Assad’s representatives would not even agree to allow humanitarian access to besieged cities such as Homs. Now we see evidence that Assad is up to his old brutal tactics, dropping barrel bombs and indiscriminately killing civilians, including many children.
“As I have said repeatedly, there are concrete actions that we should be taking immediately rather than placing our hope in endless negotiations and counterproductive agreements with a mass murderer.
“First, we should overtly provide lethal support and increase non-lethal support to carefully and properly vetted elements of the opposition, especially those who are fighting al-Qaeda affiliates, doing everything possible to ensure that these weapons do not fall into the hands of al-Qaeda or other jihadist groups. Second, we must pursue severe sanctions against individuals and financial institutions that have provided or facilitated the sale or transfer of weapons, petroleum or petroleum products to Assad. Third, we need to increase humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, one quarter of which are now displaced, as well as to the countries that are hosting Syrian refugees.
“We are going to be living with the consequences of the Obama Administration’s failed Syria policy for decades to come. It is time for the administration to increase pressure on Assad instead of giving him more room to maneuver.”