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New US Sanctions Against Syria Target Bashar Assad, His Wife Asma, Pompeo Says

© AP Photo / Hassene DridiSyrian President Bashar Assad and his wife Asma Assad. (File)
Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife Asma Assad. (File)  - Sputnik International
The Caesar Act, signed by US President Donald Trump in December 2019, comes into force starting this Wednesday, imposing new sanctions on almost all Syrian economic and trade activities and anyone who does business with Damascus.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that the 39 newly introduced sanctions designations against Syria target the country's president, Bashar Assad, and his wife, Asma, among others.

"Today, the Treasury Department and State Department are releasing 39 designations under the Caesar Act and Executive Order 13894 as the beginning of what will be a sustained campaign of economic and political pressure to deny the Assad regime revenue and support it uses to wage war and commit mass atrocities against the Syrian people," Pompeo said. "We are designating the architect of this suffering Bashar Al-Assad and his wife Asma al-Assad."

Besides the president and his wife, the newly imposed sanctions target President Assad's brother and top General Maher al-Assad, and “the funder of these atrocities Mohammed Hamsho and Iranian militia Fatemiyoun Division.”

“We are further designating Maher al-Assad, along with his Fourth Division of the Syrian Arab Army and its leadership Ghassan Ali Bilal and Samer al-Dana,” Pompeo said.

The US also designated President Assad's sister Bushra Assad and sister-in-law Manal Assad, along with Hamsho's relatives Ahmad Sabir Hamsho, Amr Hamsho, Ali Hamsho, Rania al-Dabbas, and Sumaia Hamcho.

“Many of the dozens of people and companies the US government is sanctioning today have played a key role in obstructing a peaceful political solution to the conflict. Others have aided and financed the Assad regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people while enriching themselves and their families,” Pompeo said. “I will make special note of the designation for the first time of Asma al-Assad, the wife of Bashar al-Assad, who with the support of her husband and members of her Akhras family has become one of Syria’s most notorious war profiteers.”

Pompeo warned that anyone doing business with any of the designated persons or entities risks sanctions.

He also stressed that Washington will continue to announce new Syria sanctions in the coming weeks and months, targeting more individuals and businesses that support the Syrian president.

“We will continue this campaign in the coming weeks and months to target individuals and businesses that support the Assad regime and obstruct a peaceful, political resolution of the conflict as called for by [the United Nations Security Council Resolution] (UNSCR) 2254,” Pompeo said.  “We anticipate many more sanctions.”

In early May, US President Donald Trump announced that he was renewing US sanctions against Syria due to the ongoing conflict in the Middle Eastern country.

At that time, the US president called on the Syrian government to end the war in the country and condemned Russia and Iran for what he described as support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. 

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah speaks on a screen via a video link during a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the death of Hezbollah top commander, Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in an explosion in Damascus, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, May 14, 2018 - Sputnik International
Hezbollah Leader Denounces New US Sanctions, Says They Aim to 'Starve' Syria, Lebanon
Russia and Iran act as the ceasefire guarantors in war-torn Syria. Moscow carries out humanitarian operations across the Middle Eastern country on a regular basis and helps Damascus in providing safe passage for the return of Syrian refugees.

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, signed into law by US President Donald Trump in late December, requires the US administration to impose new sanctions on anyone who cooperates with or provides financing to the Syrian government, its security services and Syria’s central bank.

The act calls for sanctions on anyone assisting the Syrian government in the military, construction, engineering, energy or aviation sectors.

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