Syria’s inner circle of power has been dominated by the al-Assad family for 50 years, but nearly a decade of war is exposing its cracks.
United States authorities on Wednesday imposed sanctions on six prominent Syrians and 11 entities connected to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – actions aimed at cutting off sources of revenue to al-Assad’s government and forcing it back to the negotiating table.
Those blacklisted by the US Treasury include the head of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, the governor of Syria’s Central Bank, and Syrian businessman Khodr Taher Bin Ali, described by the Treasury as “an intermediary for the Fourth Division of the Syrian Arab Army”.
Some 11 businesses tied to Bin Ali spanning the tourism, telecommunications, private security and transportation industries, which the US Treasury claims generate revenue for al-Assad’s government and its supporters, were also targeted in Wednesday’s action.
The sanctions were announced a day after the third anniversary of air attacks that killed at least 34 civilians, including children, in Armanaz, a town in the northwestern province of Idlib.
“Those who continue to stand with the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad further enable its corruption and human rights abuses,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement on the US Treasury website.
“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.”
The Treasury actions freeze any US assets of those sanctioned and generally bars Americans from doing business with them.
In concert with the Treasury, the US State Department also sanctioned three Syrians including Milad Jedid, a commander of the 5th Corps of the Syrian Arab Army who the US accuses of obstructing the ceasefire in Syria.
“The Administration’s designations of senior Government of Syria officials, military commanders, and corrupt business leaders will not cease until the Assad regime and its enablers take irreversible steps to end their campaign of violence against the Syrian people and genuinely implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
That resolution – approved unanimously by Security Council members in 2015 – calls for a ceasefire and political settlement to the conflict in Syria, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Earlier this month, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a report documenting continuing violations and abuses by nearly every group controlling territory in Syria.
The Commission concluded it has reasonable grounds to believe the Government of Syria has continued to perpetrate crimes against humanity including enforced disappearance, murder, torture, sexual violence and imprisonment.