As the United States and the world come to the aid of the Syrian people in the aftermath of last month’s earthquakes, we are reminded that their humanitarian suffering long predates this natural disaster. This month marks the twelfth year of conflict in Syria during which the Assad regime has committed innumerable atrocities, some of which rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
One of these atrocities was a massacre committed in Tadamon, a neighborhood of Damascus, where on April 16, 2013, Amjad Yousef, an Assad regime military intelligence officer, murdered at least 41 unarmed civilians. Video evidence of these murders, which were carried out coldly and methodically, was first publicly shared in 2022 after a long and comprehensive investigation by independent researchers. Today, we are taking action to promote accountability for this atrocity.
The Department of State is designating Amjad Yousef, a Warrant Officer in the Syrian Military Intelligence Directorate, pursuant to Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2023 due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely extrajudicial killings. As a result of today’s action, Yousef, as well as his wife, Anan Wasouf, and their immediate family members, are ineligible for entry into the United States.
The United States remembers and honors the victims and survivors of the Tadamon Massacre and the victims of the many other mass killings the Assad regime has carried out. The footage of this massacre, coupled with the ongoing killing and abuse of countless Syrians, serves as a sobering reminder of why countries should not normalize relations with the Assad regime absent enduring progress toward a political resolution. The United States calls on the Assad regime to cease all violations and abuses of human rights, including but not limited to extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture.
We will continue to support Syrian-led and international efforts to ensure there are consequences for the ongoing human rights violations and abuses committed in Syria. Our support for the brave Syrians who continue to risk their lives to hold the Assad regime accountable will not waver, and we will pursue every measure to find justice for victims and survivors of atrocities and to promote accountability for those responsible, including the Assad regime and its allies. Accountability and justice for the crimes, violations, and abuses committed against Syrians are essential to a stable, just, and enduring peace in Syria and the region.