The United States established diplomatic relations with Syria in 1944 following the U.S. determination that Syria had achieved effective independence from a French-administered mandate. Syria severed diplomatic relations with the United States in 1967 in the wake of the Arab-Israeli War. Relations were reestablished in 1974. Syria has been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list’s inception in 1979 because of its continued support of terrorism and terrorist groups, its former occupation of Lebanon, its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile programs and use of chemical weapons, and its ongoing efforts to undermine U.S. and international stabilization activities in Iraq and Syria. Syria is subject to legislatively mandated penalties, including export sanctions under the Syrian Accountability Act and ineligibility to receive most forms of U.S. assistance or to purchase U.S. military equipment. Since conflict erupted in Syria in March 2011, subsequent Executive Orders have been issued in response to the ongoing violence and human rights abuses taking place in Syria.
U.S. Assistance to Syria
The United States is the largest single donor to the humanitarian response in Syria, providing over $12.2 billion in humanitarian assistance for vulnerable individuals inside Syria and those displaced in the region since the start of the crisis. The U.S. government supports emergency food assistance, shelter, safe drinking water, urgent medical care, humanitarian protection activities, and other urgent relief. U.S. humanitarian aid reaches 4.8 million people inside Syria’s 14 governorates every month as well as more than five million of the 5.6 million refugees from Syria in the region.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The U.S. maintains comprehensive sanctions on Syria that broadly restrict the ability of U.S. persons to engage in transactional dealings involving the Government of Syria. The Government of Syria and its affiliated entities have been subject to U.S. economic sanctions since 2004 under the Syria Accountability Act, which prohibits or restricts the export and re-export of most U.S. products to Syria. The U.S. Government is continuously identifying and designating individuals and entities subject to U.S. sanctions related to Syria, including but not limited to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons and other atrocities against its own people.