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Congress pushes White House to toughen anti-Assad policy

The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation meant to combat the normalization of Syria's long-shunned regime.
A man walks past a poster of President Bashar al-Assad, a candidate in the presidential election, Damascus, Syria, May 17, 2021.

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WASHINGTON — A month after Hamas’ massacre in Israel, Syria’s brutal dictator was seated across from his regional counterparts demanding an end to the war. 

The irony wasn’t lost on many as Bashar al-Assad — a leader who starved, gassed and bombed his own people — took part in an emergency Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh on Nov. 11 that called for halting the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip. 

After more than a decade of diplomatic isolation, Assad is mending ties with Arab states, including many US partners, that once called for his ouster. The Biden administration says it won’t join in recognizing Syria’s regime absent a political solution to the nearly 13-year war, but many lawmakers say the United States could be playing a more active role in opposing its normalization. 

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