The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on officials, entities and individuals it accused of providing support to Syrian president Bashar Assad as Washington continued to impose sanctions aimed at cutting off funds for Assad’s government.
The action, which also targeted the Syrian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, marks another round of sanctions in Washington’s bid to push Assad’s government back to United Nations-led negotiations and broker an end to the country’s nearly decade-long war.
The US Treasury Department in a statement said it slapped sanctions on Syrian military officials, members of the parliament, government of Syria entities, as well as on Syrian and Lebanese people it accused of attempting to revive Syria’s petroleum industry.
“The Treasury Department is determined to continue to apply economic pressure on the Assad regime and its supporters for the repression conducted by the regime,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
This action is the Treasury Department’s fifth round of Syria-related actions since the provisions of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 (Caesar Act) came into full effect.
“Today’s action complements the international effort to compel the Assad regime to cease the war it is waging against its own people and reinforces the US government’s continued effort to achieve a peaceful, political resolution of the Syrian conflict in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254,” read a Treasury statement.
Monday’s sanctions targeted Arfada Petroleum Private Joint Stock Company (Arfada) and Sallizar Shipping SAL (Sallizar), two companies based in Syria and Lebanon, respectively, that have entered into substantial contracts with the government of Syria to develop the Syrian oil sector.
It designated Hussam al-Qaterji, a Syrian businessman and 33 percent shareholder of Arfada. Qaterji is known as the godfather of the regime’s oil and wheat trade with ISIS. Beginning in 2014, Qaterji started brokering oil and wheat trade deals between the Assad regime and ISIS. He has been a member of parliament for the government-controlled area of Aleppo since 2016.
The Treasury also designated Kamal al-Madani and Tariq Al-Madani, two of the four founders of Sallizar.
It also targeted General Ghassan Jaoudat Ismail, the head of the designated Syrian Air Force Intelligence (SAFI). Ismail has served as the head of SAFI since 2019, previously serving as the Deputy Director and in charge of SAFI’s mission branch, which manages SAFI’s elite troops in cooperation with the special operations branch, who play a key role in the repression conducted by the Syrian regime.
It designated Brigadier General Nasr Al-Ali, the head of the designated Political Security Directorate (PSD). Al-Ali has served as the head of PSD since July 2019. Prior to being named to this position, Al-Ali headed PSD branches in Aleppo and Daraa.
A crackdown by Assad on protesters in 2011 led to war, with Iran and Russia backing the government and the United States supporting the opposition.
Millions of people have fled Syria and millions more have been internally displaced.
Syria has been under US and European Union sanctions that have frozen the assets of the state and hundreds of companies and individuals. Washington already bans exports to Syria and investment there by Americans, as well as transactions involving oil and hydrocarbon products.