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US slaps new sanctions on Syria to put pressure on Assad regime

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus, Syria on 7 September 2020 [Russian Foreign Ministry/Anadolu Agency]
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus, Syria on 7 September 2020 [Russian Foreign Ministry/Anadolu Agency]

The United States imposed a fresh round of sanctions on the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad yesterday, in a continuation of its efforts to put economic pressure on the regime to stop the conflict.

The sanctions targeted 19 Syrian officials, entities and individuals including the chief of the Air Force Intelligence Unit Ghassan Ismail, the head of the Political Security Directorate Nasr Al-Ali, and a number of companies in Syria's oil industry.

Also included among the sanctioned officials were newly-appointed members of parliament such as Nabil Toumeh Bin Mohammed, Amer Taysir Kheiti, and Hussam Bin Ahmed Rushdi Al-Qatirji. In a statement the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that they were sanctioned due to "their financial dealings on behalf of Bashar and Maher Al-Assad rather than using their legislative positions to serve the Syrian people."

Pompeo stated that "we support UN Special Envoy [Geir] Pedersen's call for a nationwide ceasefire, the release of political prisoners and detainees, the drafting of a new constitution, as well as the convening of UN-supervised free and fair elections."

READ: Syria's Assad says billions locked in troubled Lebanese banks behind economic crisis

The statement warned that "The Assad regime has a choice: take irreversible steps toward a peaceful resolution of this nearly decade-long conflict or face further crippling sanctions."

These sanctions are the latest in a series that the US has imposed on the Syrian regime and any individuals, entities and companies that deal with it over the course of the ongoing nine-year-long conflict in the country and the regime's numerous human rights abuses therein.

The last round of sanctions were imposed on six Syrian officials and 11 entities last month, and followed on from the heavy Caesar sanctions which the US implemented in June.

Despite these numerous sanctions, which also include travel bans and the freezing of assets, the Assad regime and its affiliate worldwide have long managed to circumvent them using methods such as through front companies abroad, offshore tax havens, and a vast business network which all enabled the regime to receive funds.

READ: The US Caesar sanctions are a punishment not a solution for Syria

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Asia & AmericasMiddle EastNewsSyriaUS
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