US President Donald Trump signed a Syria sanctions bill as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the 2020 defense budget. The bill authorizes additional sanctions and financial restrictions on institutions and individuals doing business with the Syrian regime.
The act, Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2019, is named after a Syrian military photographer who leaked tens of thousands of gruesome pictures of victims who were systematically tortured to death by the Bashar al-Assad regime.
The photographs showed evidence of starvation, beating, strangulation and other forms of torture.
The harsh new sanctions on Syria are justified in the name of alleged war crimes committed during the eight-year-old regime-change war that has devastated the country.
Sources said that the law imposes sanctions to “thwart reconstruction projects in areas under the control of the Syrian government with the participation of Syrians or non-Syrians.” It also seeks obstructing Arab and European normalization of ties with Damascus.
Even more, the law gives Washington room for negotiating with Moscow to gain concessions from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On the other hand, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday said Russia and China had blood on their hands after the two countries used a veto of a UN Security Council resolution to block cross-border aid deliveries from Turkey and Iraq to millions of Syrian civilians.
"The Russian Federation’s and China’s veto yesterday of a Security Council resolution that allows for humanitarian aid to reach millions of Syrians is shameful," Pompeo said in a statement.
"To Russia and China, who have chosen to make a political statement by opposing this resolution, you have blood on your hands," he added.
Russia, backed by China, on Friday cast its 14th U.N. Security Council veto since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.