The State Department and the Department of the Treasury announced Wednesday that 14 additional sanctions have been placed on the Assad regime in an attempt to end the nine-year-long civil war in Syria.
Economic sanctions and individual designations began last month under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, signed by President Trump in December last year.
The Caesar Act is named after a Syrian military photographer that leaked images of thousands of Syrians that were tortured and killed in prisons placed throughout the country.
“The Assad regime’s military has become a symbol of brutality, repression, and corruption,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday. “They have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, detained and tortured peaceful protesters, and destroyed schools, hospitals, and markets without regard to human life.”
Four individuals and 10 entities actively supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s violence have been the most recent targets of sanctions – including his adult son Hafez al-Assad.
A Syrian businessman and nine other entities were named in being complicit with the atrocities committed by the regime, by reportedly enriching the government through the development of luxury real estate.
Roughly 50 sanctions have been placed on the Syrian government through the Caesar Act since June, including on Assad’s wife Asma al-Assad.
“I will make special note of the designation for the first time of Asma 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 said last month.
Wednesday’s sanctions were named after two Syrian cities that experienced notorious atrocities under the Assad regime in 2011 and then in 2019.
“Nine years ago, Bashar al-Assad’s troops carried out a brutal siege of the city of Hama, killing scores of peaceful protesters in a shocking sign of what was to come,” Pompeo said in a statement. “One year ago, the Assad regime and its allies bombed a busy marketplace in Maarat Al-Numan, killing 42 innocent Syrians.”
The White House promised that more sanctions would follow if Assad did not stop the brutal war that has resulted in the death of roughly half a million people and displaced 11 million others.
The U.S. has contributed $11.3 billion in aid for humanitarian support in the region since the conflict broke out.
“The Caesar Act and other U.S. Syria sanctions are not intended to harm the Syrian people and do not target humanitarian assistance or hinder our stabilization activities in northeast Syria,” Pompeo said.
“The Assad regime and those who support it have a simple choice: take irreversible steps toward a lasting political solution to end the Syrian conflict as called for by UNSCR 2254 or face new tranches of crippling sanctions,” he added.