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. George Patton

    Just kidding. They are both excellent. I love both Obama and Hilary. I have a picture of them both in my den, kitchen, and office.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Patton

      Sorry folks,I never posted the above. Some Tea Partying bozo is trolling me again,trying to make a jerk out of me.

      May 18, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |

    Right. So, no need to pay my mortgage today considering money is worthless and so is my home. I mean, with the end of the earth and all.

    May 18, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ted

    I think we should just nuke theat mecca place. Wait until they are having that big festival and blow the place up. Then blame it on Pakistan. Let them raagheads fight it out amongst themselves.

    May 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. genewest1801

    He needs the same treatment that the other jerk just got...

    May 18, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tony the Prophet

    All political systems are destined to fail and that includes the US, political systems become corrupted, financially broke, burden the citizens with taxes and rules. America for example is a point where citizens are overwhelmed and struggling to live due to the high costs of living imposed upon them, just because Americans can indue a hardship does not mean they will not revolt. Its coming trust me.

    May 18, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tony the Prophet

    Lets take him out like we did with Bin Laden

    May 18, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tony the Prophet

    lets burn the Syrian flag first

    May 18, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tony the Prophet

    Syrians are Muslims too therefore canton be trusted not now not ever, they are suicidal and crazy people, all Muslims have shown us nothing but pain and terror these people are not an example for a civilization.

    May 18, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cricket

    Take him out? Really? The US cannot keep going into countries and assassinating the leaders because we simply do not like them.

    May 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cesar

    Shut up fake cricket. You are a STUPID idiot. Suk on a hot dog.

    May 18, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bh


    May 18, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ivanhoe

    For more information on this read novel ... king of Bat'ha

    May 19, 2011 at 4:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. diane chokesondick

    Obama hasnt a foriegn pnlicy. Muslins by nature are very violent people. Let them kill each other. It would save momey. America is not responsible for you. Tom America hasnt lost thousands in riots. get it right

    May 19, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. popeye

    Syria is just another name for safe haven for terrorists ! Why mess with them I'm sure we have plenty of so called sleepers here in our very own country just waiting for the right time to attack !

    May 19, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  15. jesse kleitman

    I am having bad luck finding where to post this news. I recieved info that as of 10:30 am EST may 19 a crowd of armed extremeists have surrounded a coptic church in the ains shams district of Cairo. The army allowed them to gather and had not disbursed them. The priests and deacon are inside.

    May 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
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