House Passes Conyers Amendment to Prevent Transfer of Shoulder-Fired Anti-Aircraft Missiles to Syrian Fighters
(WASHINGTON) – Late yesterday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives considered H.R. 4870, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2015.” During consideration of the legislation, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) offered a bipartisan amendment to prevent the transfer of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles - otherwise known as Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems, or MANPADS - to any party in the Syrian Civil War. Since their initial use on a battlefield in 1978, MANPAD attacks have resulted in nearly 1,000 civilian deaths. After the amendment was approved unanimously by the full U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Conyers issued the following statement:
U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr.
“If there’s one simple lesson we can take away from US involvement in conflicts overseas, it’s this: Beware of unintended consequences. As was made vividly clear with US involvement in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion decades ago, overzealous military assistance or the hyper-weaponization of conflicts can have destabilizing consequences and ultimately undercut our own national interests. I am grateful that the House of Representatives unanimously passed my amendment last night to prevent the transfer of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles - commonly called MANPADS - to forces in Syria. These weapons are easily hidden, capable of extraordinary damage, and have already resulted in the loss of nearly 1,000 civilian lives,” said Conyers.
“Both U.S. and Israeli officials have feared that these weapons could be used by terrorists to bring down commercial jets. As the boundaries are increasingly blurred between insurgents fighting the Syrian government and those fighting the Iraqi government, providing additional arms could further destabilize the Middle East. The possibility that MANPADS - or any weapon - could fall into the hands of radical groups would unquestionably increase the already-devastating human toll in the region.
“The answer to violence is not to increase access to weapons that allow for more violence. Preventing the transfer of anti-aircraft missiles is a first step towards de-escalating the chaos that has haunted Syria and the wider region for far too long, but until a lasting, peaceful resolution can be found it must not be the last.”