Popular Mobilization Unit fighters march during a parade marking the annual Quds Day, Baghdad June 2017. (Photo credit: AFP)
A member of the Syrian People’s Assembly, Mohammed Fawaz, lauded Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) for their success in breaking the harsh economic sanctions imposed on Syria by the United States. The PMF sent aid and delegations to Syria to assist in the wake of last week’s devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
Fawaz said on Monday 12 February that, “Iraq is the strategic depth of Syria and its back, and this was embodied by the entry of the Popular Mobilization convoys into Syria, breaking the unjust siege on the Syrian people and in defiance of the Caesar Act.”
He added that “the visit of the Iraqi deputies to the Syrian People’s Assembly came as a political condemnation of the inhumane sanctions on the Syrian people and raised the voice from Damascus of the need to speed up the lifting of this ban.”
Another member of the Syrian People’s Assembly, Nasser Youssef, praised the PMF and called for strengthening cooperation between the brotherly countries of Syria and Iraq.
US planners imposed additional harsh sanctions on Syria in 2019 through legislation known as the Caesar Act. These were added to sanctions imposed at the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011 to complement the US-backed jihadist insurgency in the country.
The act was named after a report issued in 2014 claiming to show evidence of “industrial scale killing” by the Syrian government. The report, authored by the UK law firm Carter-Ruck, claimed to verify photographic evidence provided by a defected Syrian Arab Army (SAA) photographer, known as “Caesar,” who had smuggled 55,000 photographs out of Syria. These photographs allegedly documented the Syrian government’s torture and killing of some 11,000 detainees.
However, as journalist Rick Sterling has detailed, over 46% of the photographs (24,568) did not show people tortured to death by the Syrian government. Rather, they showed dead Syrian soldiers and victims of car bombs and other violence. Thus, nearly half the photos showed the opposite of what was alleged.
After reviewing the Carter-Ruck report, Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor similarly concluded that the Carter-Ruck report and allegations made by Caesar were not credible.
In addition to the US-imposed sanctions on Syria, US planners have sought to block trade and cooperation between Syria, Iraq, and Iran by maintaining a military base on the Syria-Iraq border at al-Tanf, while the Israeli air force has regularly bombed PMU and SAA targets on the same border further to the north, near the town of Al-Bukamal, with US approval.