U.S. imposes tough sanctions against Syrian president, other officials
The U.S. imposed sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad and six other senior Syrian officials.
May 18th, 2011
01:38 PM ET

U.S. imposes tough sanctions against Syrian president, other officials

President Barack Obama Wednesday imposed tough sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and six other senior Syrian officials in an effort to stop the regime's fierce crackdown on protests, the U.S. Treasury Department said.

The sanctions also target two top Iranian officials whose unit was a "conduit for Iranian material support" to Syrian intelligence, according to a copy of the executive order issued by the White House.

Obama signed the order Wednesday, a move a senior administration official described as a "decisive step to increase pressure" on the Syrian government to end violence, intimidation and pressure "and begin transitioning to a democratic" process.

Condemning Syria's use of violence and intimidation against its people, the official said al-Assad "must put an end to the attacks on protesters, mass arrests and harassment" of citizens expressing rights and "must begin to introduce change."

The Syrian government has launched a clampdown on peaceful demonstrators since mid-March. The United Nations last week said as many as 850 people have died in the protests, and there have been thousands of arrests.

Along with al-Assad, the other senior Syrian officials are Farouk al-Shara, Prime Minister Adel Safar, Interior Minister General Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, Defense Minister Ali Habib Mahmoud, the head of Syrian military Abdul Fatah Qudsiya and Mohammed Dib Zaitoun, head of Syrian military intelligence.

"As a result of this action, any property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the individuals listed in the Annex have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them," the Treasury Department said in a statement detailing the steps.

The senior administration official said it's too early to estimate how much will be frozen.

"As I am sure you know, when we take actions obligatory for institutions to freeze, many institutions around the world might" do the same thing, the official said. "Amplifications around that may be significant."

Treasury also announced the designation of 10 individuals and entities under an executive order signed by Obama on April 29.

It targets Syrian officials and others "responsible for human rights abuses, including repression against the Syrian people, as well as a set of companies tied to Syrian corruption."

One is Hafiz Makhluf, a cousin of al-Assad and a senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, the overarching civilian intelligence service in Syria.

"Makhluf was given a leading role in responding to protests in Syria, and was heavily involved in the Syrian regime's actions" in the city of Daraa, the official said, where many protesters have been killed.

Also designated were two Iranians: Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, which is called "the conduit for Iranian material support" to the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, and the other is Mohsen Chizari, a senior IRGC-QF officer who serves as its commander of operations and training.

"It is a completely hypocritical act" of the Iranian government and the Quds force to "lend assistance in oppression" against those expressing human rights, the senior official said. "It is something we are concerned about," the official added.

Other agencies designated are the Syrian Military Intelligence, the Syrian National Security Bureau, which is an element of the ruling Baath party; and Syrian Air Force Intelligence.

All are said to be involved in the actions against demonstrators.

Air Force Intelligence personnel allegedly "fired tear gas and live ammunition to disperse crowds of demonstrators" in late April after noon prayers, the Treasury Department said. At least 43 people were killed.

- CNN's Elise Labott and Adam Levine contributed to this report

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Filed under: Syria • U.S.
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. pccoder

    who cares, after the rapture on saturday, this won't matter. 🙂

    May 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      You are not serious are you? I would advise you to seek professional help for your delusional thinking.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      I think Mr. Camping should write me a blank check dated for May 22.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NoToTheRapture

    Oh come on! Can't this wait? I have a date on Saturday and prefer for the world not to end yet!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alex

    I guess that's what happens when you kill innocent people!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Oppedisano

      How many innocent people has George Bush killed, or Obama for that matter?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Syrian

      yes that is what happen... once you open live ammunition on your own people you has appointed you as presidents... the arab new faces are coming and it is soo long for the oppressing regiem that only gave rise to extremist... it is about time for this dictator to step down...

      May 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • ali

      I support the people of Syria but also Bahrain. US just supports Syrians. Bahrain, well there it's OK to kill people.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Keksi

    When will they impose sanctions against Israel?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus H. Christ

      NEVER!I!! ISRAEL IS THE U.S #1 ALLY! HACKMA HACKMA!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Hopefully soon, Keksi. I doubt that America would ever let that fly though.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Satan

    It's almost party time!!! Finally I get get that Jesus guy off my back and do what I want!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • God

      Oh stop it. We both know you created these phony religions to maintain control over the sheep. Off to the Phantom Zone you go! An eternity of yawns... no party for you sorry. I will try and save the ones you led astray.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tutu

    "this story is developing." I like how the first letter isn't capitalized.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chris

    uuumm so now we're sanctioning all the leaders we don't agree with...careful Obama you might be next..people around the world are counting how many murders happened in America last week. Might blame you.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matthew Poston

    We need to send ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER over there to take care of business and put htings back inot the proper order, and we need to do it NOW!!!!!!!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dr. Delhi

    ___ Free Saudi Arabia !! .... Free Kuwait !! ___

    May 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew Poston

      Free Clean Air, Free Soap, Free water are those novelty items for you mr. delhi

      May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Satan

    @ Tutu, I corrected the article. 🙂

    May 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Satan

    Free Puppies!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Matthew Poston

    shame on you. I pray for your salvation, lest you burn in the fires of the underworld. By the way, I have always wondered what the H stands for can you help me out with that one buddy?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      Does that mean he's not being sucked up to heaven when the rapture happens this Saturday?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • SeunB

      he'll definitely get sucked in... maybe hell.. who knows.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bridget The Midget

      All of Satan's followers are going to be severely let down when they get to Hades and realize that God would never give the Devil the control and pleasure of dominating those he duped. The Phantom Zone for the Devil. Nothing but quiet and boredom for an eternity. At least I pray that happens.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Oh yeah! The crazies will have to come up with some kind of excuse as to why we're all still here at that point in time. Oh it shall be hilarious.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • G odd

      The religious leaders are not crazy. They are quite clever serpents. The poor uneducated souls that follow them will begin to wise up when the end of the world comes and goes repeatedly throughout their lives without incident. The ones left at the end are the crazies.

      May 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeAguaDulce

      HOLY...because that's his nature, though crude people like yourself and the one you're responding to sem to get off on profaning that holiness.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Forrest

    We have known about Syria for years and this should have been done a long time ago. This should not have waited until freedom fighters had to die. Always reactive and never proactive.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeAguaDulce

      Those "freedom fighters" would have spat in our faces for sanctioning their beloved Assad just a few months ago. It wouldn't have achieved anything. I doubt it still will. They will hate teh US either way.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Alex

    I wonder if Syria will be like Libya soon?

    May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tol Trunks

      Can anyone in Syria confrim the operation of the David Shield? 2-3-2012.

      May 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ScurrySaturday

    Let's discuss this on Sunday ... oh wait ...

    May 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
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