U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hears Syrian defector “Caesar”

WASHINGTON D.C. — A military defector of the Syrian army called on members of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday to impose stricter measures and sanctions against the Syrian intelligence services and system because of the brutal and criminal acts committed during the Syrian war. In 2013, the military defector codenamed “Caesar” smuggled out of Syria thousands of photographs which document torture and killings in Syrian prisons by the Syrian intelligence services and army. His photographs helped imposing U.S. sanctions on Syria.

Caesar worked as a photographer in the Syrian regime’s army but defected in 2014 with 55.000 photographs, documenting the brutality of practices and repression in Syrian prisons. On the occasion of the 9th anniversary of the war in Syria, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held hearing sessions on Wednesday. Caesar testified before the Senate Committee in disguise. The attendees and the media were asked to turn off mobile phones and cameras.

During the sessions, which were under high security precautions, the military defector called on the Congress members to trial the Syrian state for its violations during the nine years of the war.

“Despite the risks that I was exposed to, I did not achieve my goal of ending the violations. Killing only increased in the same places and in the same methods and by the same criminals themselves,” Caesar said.

Caesar testified before U.S. Congress in 2014. It helped impose legislation for new sanctions against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Russia and Iran for supporting him. That measure has been considered a law within the defense authorization bill signed by U.S. President Donald Trump, but not yet fully implemented.