Syria criticized the US government’s preliminary approval of a sanction program against the Arab state. Syria’s official newspaper Teshreen , called the policy’s designers "a group of extremists who are trying to increase tension between Arabs and the American administration.”
Accusing Syria of financing terrorists, occupying Lebanon and developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the US House of Representatives' International Relations Committee approved legislation on Wednesday, October 8, 2003, that would impose limited sanctions against the state.
The Syria Accountability Act was approved by a vote of 33-2 and is expected to come up for debate in the full House of Representatives during the week of October 13-17, according to a committee summary.
The bill calls for sanctions to be imposed until such time as US President Bush declares that Syria has stopped sponsoring terrorism and has halted chemical and biological weapons programs, reported Washington FIile.
Teshreen published an article on Thursday, October 9, stating that the United States’ claim that Syria is developing weapons of WMD is baseless. “The whole world knows that Syria is the country that called for the Middle East to become a WMD free-zone,” the editorial said.
The act calls for Bush to select two sanctions from a list that includes barring US exports to and investment in Syria, except for food and medicine; freezing Syrian government assets in the United States; banning Syrian aircraft from US air space; reducing diplomatic contacts with Damascus; and prohibiting Syrian diplomats from traveling more than 25 miles outside of Washington or the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York.
The measure would also keep Syria on the US Department of
State's list of nations that sponsor terrorism, demand that Syria withdraw its troops from Lebanon, and hold Syria responsible for terrorism against US military forces in Iraq.
The House bill has 281 co-sponsors while the Senate version has 76 co-sponsors. The companion bill’s legislation in the Senate has not left committee. The level of co-sponsorship is generally indicative of a piece of legislation's support in Congress and chances of final passage. — (menareport.com)
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