On April 16, 2013, little more than two years into the Syrian civil war, at least 41 civilians were murdered. These victims were blindfolded, shot, and killed in cold blood, as they were instructed, one by one, to run unknowingly into a death pit the regime dug. The victims were not fighters, they were civilians living in Tadamon, a suburb of Damascus, politically non-aligned and nominally under the protection of the regime of Bashar al Assad.
These horrific killings were documented by video evidence, leaving no doubt of the regime’s hand in this atrocity. Nor is there any question that Amjad Yousef, a member of Branch 227 of Syria’s military intelligence service, was responsible.
“The Assad regime has committed innumerable atrocities, some of which rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The massacre committed in Tadamon was one of them, he said.
“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,” said Secretary Blinken. “Today, we are taking action to promote accountability for this atrocity.”
On March 6, the U.S. Department of State designated 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 for his involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely extrajudicial killings. As a result of that 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 for why countries should not normalize relations with the Assad regime absent enduring progress towards a political resolution,” said Secretary Blinken.
“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,” he said. “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.”