The Trump administration slapped 17 new sanctions on any government, military officials, and business leaders linked to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, The Hill reports.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced the sanctions targeting human rights abusers who have attacked civilians throughout the nine-year civil war in that country.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. will continue to hit the Syrian regime with sanctions until Assad implements a United Nations political resolution to the civil war.
“Thus far, Assad’s foreign enablers have only emboldened his regime’s cronies and deepened their involvement in the exploitative financial and military apparatus that underpins the regime’s survival,” Pompeo said in a statement. “There is a clear path forward. The Syrian people have suffered enough.”
The sanctions go after the current head of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, Husam Muhammad Louka, and Khodr Taher Bin Ali, a close business associate of Assad, and his wife Asma Asma al Akhra.
In addition, the U.S. imposed sanctions on the head of the Central Bank of Syria, Hazem Younes Kafroul, and parts of the Syrian military, including the 5th Corps of the Syrian Arab Army, and its commander Milad Jedid for obstructing a ceasefire.
Also included on the blacklist are Nasreen and Rana Ibrahim, the adult sisters of Yasser Ibrahim, who is identified as a financier of Assad.
"The Ibrahim family, led by Yasser Ibrahim, acts as a front for Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma al Akhras," Pompeo said. "While millions of Syrians face hunger, the Ibrahims are on a spending spree to expand Assad’s and Akhras’s personal stranglehold on the Syrian economy."
Pompeo noted that the sanctions do not target humanitarian assistance to affected civilians, including $720 million most recently announced on September 24, part of over $12 billion provided by the U.S. to the Syrian people since 2011.
According to The Hill, the administration’s sanctions are authorized under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, named for the pseudonym of the Syrian military photographer who defected from Assad’s army and smuggled out thousands of photos of evidence of crimes against humanity. The photos showed dead prisoners who were tortured, starved, and burnt.
The new sanctions were announced on the third anniversary of the Armanaz massacre, an attack by Syrian and Russian forces on civilians in the Syrian town that hit rescue workers helping civilians. The attac killed 34 people, including eight women and seven children.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions go after people who enable Assad to continue his corruption and human rights abuses.
“As we mark three years since the regime’s slaughter of Syrian civilians in Armanaz, Syria, the United States will continue to employ all of its tools and authorities to target the finances of anyone who profits from or facilitates the Assad regime’s abuse of the Syrian people,” Mnuchin said.
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