U.S. announces new sanctions against Syria
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Treasury Department announced new sanctions against the Syrian government Thursday, blacklisting four senior officials, a private television station that it said had colluded with Syrian authorities and an airline it accused of delivering weapons from Iran.
The state-owned Syrian Arab Airlines carried mortar rounds, small arms, rockets and light antiaircraft guns aboard cargo flights to Syria on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, U.S. officials said.
The TV station, Al Dunya, allegedly provided Syrian intelligence with videotaped interviews of people who criticized the regime, which used the tapes to make arrests, the Treasury Department said. The station later aired interviews with detainees in the town of Harasta who had been tortured into making false confessions, U.S. officials said.
The four Syrian officials added to the sanctions list were Defense Minister Fahd Jassem Freij, Health Minister Saad Nayef, Industry Minister Adnan Sukhni and Justice Minister Najm Ahmad.
The moves come as the Obama administration faces critics who accuse it of not doing enough to resolve Syria’s two-year civil war. The White House has ruled out unilateral U.S. military intervention for now but says it is considering other options, including increasing aid for the opposition and raising diplomatic pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The Treasury Department has sanctioned more than 100 people and entities responsible for “the abhorrent humanitarian situation in Syria,” the department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David S. Cohen, said in a statement. Americans are barred from doing business with those on the sanctions list, and any U.S. assets they may hold are frozen.
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