US sanctions 6 senior Syrian government, financial officials

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens to a reporter's question during a meeting with President Donald Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Thursday announced new sanctions against six Syrian military, government and financial officials as part of ongoing efforts to prevent money from going to President Bashar Assad's government.

“We will continue pressure against the Assad regime to compel it to end its attacks against the Syrian people,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, adding that the sanctions were timed to coincide with the seventh anniversary Friday of the Assad's government's chemical weapons attack in Ghouta that killed more than 1,400 Syrians.

The State Department sanctioned Yasser Ibrahim, who is suspected of obstructing a political solution to the Syrian conflict and using his networks across the Middle East and beyond to cut deals to enrich Assad.

The Treasury Department took action against the Syrian presidential office and Syrian Ba’ath Party by targeting Luna al-Shibl, Assad’s presidential media adviser, and Mohamad Amar Saati, a senior Ba’ath party official. The U.S. accuses the party official of facilitating the entry of university students into Assad-backed militias.

The military officials Fadi Saqr, Ghaith Dalah and Samer Ismail also were sanctioned.

In June, the Trump administration increased pressure on Assad, his wife, Asma, and his inner circle with new economic and travel penalties for human rights abuses and blocking a settlement of the country’s bloody nine-year conflict. Last month, the State Department imposed sanctions on Assad’s eldest son, Hafez.

The State Department also has designated 39 Syrian individuals, including the Assads, as well as members of their extended family, military leaders and business executives. Many were already subject to U.S. sanctions, but the penalties also targeted non-Syrians who do business with them.

Separately, the Treasury Department imposed penalties on 24 individuals, companies and government agencies that the U.S. accuses of supporting Assad's corrupt reconstruction efforts.

The Treasury sanctions are the result of legislation known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, named after the pseudonym of a Syrian policeman who turned over photographs of thousands of victims of torture by the Assad government.

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