WASHINGTON — The Obama administration hit three top Syrian officials, Syria's intelligence agency, and Iran's Revolutionary Guard with sanctions over their brutal crackdown on pro-reform demonstrators in Syria.
The penalties announced today will freeze any assets that the officials, Syria's General Intelligence Directorate and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps may have in U.S. jurisdictions and also bar Americans from doing business with them.
President Barack Obama signed the executive order authorizing the sanctions for repression and human rights abuses committed by Syrian authorities seeking to quell five weeks of protests, administration officials said. More than 450 people have been reported killed by activists.
The officials would not name the individuals to be penalized pending the formal release of Obama's executive order and an annex that will identify them. However, Syrian President Bashar Assad is not among those included in the annex. Assad could be named at a later date if the crackdown continues, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity before the announcement.
Reuters reported that two of those named are relatives of Assad.
Although the sanctions are likely to have limited direct impact because none of the targets is believed to have any significant assets in U.S. banks, the officials said the move was aimed at sending a clear message to the Syrian people that those responsible for the crackdown are going to face consequences and no one in the Syrian leadership will be immune.
Syria is already under U.S. sanctions as it is designated a "state sponsor of terrorism" by the State Department. The new sanctions extend the penalties to individuals.
Iran and its Revolutionary Guard Corps are also under similar U.S. sanctions. The officials said the new designation for the Revolutionary Guard would add another layer of penalties and make clear that Washington believes it is providing material support to help Syrian authorities with the crackdown.
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