WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday (Dec 22) slapped fresh sanctions on Syria, targeting its central bank and blacklisting several people and entities in a continued effort to cut off funds for President Bashar al-Assad's government.
The latest action, building on sanctions imposed on Syria earlier this year, marked another round in a US campaign to push Assad's government back into UN-led negotiations to end the country’s nearly decade-long war.
"The United States will continue to seek accountability for those prolonging this conflict," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Millions of people have fled Syria and millions more have been internally displaced since a crackdown by Assad on protesters in 2011 led to civil war with Iran and Russia backing the government and the United States supporting the opposition.
In a separate statement, the U.S. Treasury Department said the new sanctions add two individuals, nine business entities and the Central Bank of Syria to Washington's Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List.
The U.S. State Department also designated Asma al-Assad, the British-born wife of the Syrian president, accusing her of impeding efforts for a political resolution to the war, and several members of her family, Pompeo said. Asma al-Assad was previously hit with sanctions in June.
Among those blacklisted were Lina Mohammed Nazir al-Kinayeh, one of Assad's key advisers; her husband, Syrian parliamentarian Mohammed Hammam Mohammed Adnan Masouti; several government affiliated businesses; and General Kifah Moulhem, commander of Syria's Military Intelligence organization.
Tuesday's action freezes any US assets of those blacklisted and generally bar Americans from dealing with them. Non-Americans that engage in certain transactions with the targeted people and entities may also be hit with sanctions, the Treasury said.