Administration deepens sanctions over bloody Syrian conflict

The Trump administration on Tuesday announced more sanctions on Syria, intensifying pressure on President Bashar Assad to end the country’s vicious, nearly decade-long conflict. The sanctions target Syria’s central bank, an aide to Assad and others.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the United States was intent on “holding accountable the Assad regime for the atrocities it has committed against its own people.”

“The Treasury Department will continue to use all of its tools to expose those who stand with the Assad regime and enable these crimes to continue,” Mnuchin said in a statement.

The State Department and other international governments and independent rights groups say Assad and his regime are responsible in the killings of hundreds of thousands of civilians through aerial bombing campaigns, torture, armed attacks, hunger and other targeted campaigns. The violence began when Assad’s fighters brutally quashed civilian protests at the time of the 2011 Arab Spring popular uprisings.

Tuesday’s announcement deepens sanctions on the central bank. Syria’s economy already has seen prices soar and the value of the Syrian currency plunge amid earlier U.S. financial sanctions and the fear of more.

The Treasury Department said the aim “was to discourage future investment in government-controlled areas of Syria” as part of the broader effort to compel Assad’s government to end human rights violations.

The new sanctions also target Lina Mohammed Nazir al-Kinayeh, whom Treasury identified as an official in Assad’s presidential office, her husband and their businesses, and others.