The United States has imposed sanctions on a Syrian military intelligence officer who killed 41 people in an infamous massacre ten years ago.
In a leaked video released and circulated last year, it showed a Syrian regime officer shooting blindfolded civilians over a large pit in the ground in the capital Damascus’s Tadamon neighbourhood on 16 April 2013. Some of them were told by that officer to run unsuspectingly towards the pit, as they were shot in the back, while others were harassed or kicked into it before being shot.
That intelligence officer was then revealed by researchers to be Amjad Yousef, a Major in branch 227 of the Syrian military intelligence service, according to the Guardian newspaper. Following the revelations, Yousef was reportedly detained by the regime but, months later, was reported to still be active and working from a military base.
He was finally sanctioned by the US yesterday, with Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announcing in a statement that the State Department is “designating Amjad Yousef, a Warrant Officer in the Syrian Military Intelligence Directorate … due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely extrajudicial killings”.
He clarified that “As a result of today’s action, Yousef, as well as his wife, Anan Wasouf, and their immediate family members, are ineligible for entry into the United States”.
Washington’s designation of the intelligence officer comes only days ahead of the twelfth year of Syria’s ongoing conflict, which was sparked in 2011 following the brutal crackdown on peaceful protests by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.
In his statement, Blinken urged the international community not to normalise ties with the Assad regime “absent enduring progress towards a political resolution”, reiterating that the US “calls on the Assad regime to cease all violations and abuses of human rights, including but not limited to extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and torture”.