The US has imposed sanctions on Libya’s Kaniyat group, alleging it was responsible for murdering hundreds of civilians in Tarhouna.
The Treasury Department took this step against the armed group and its leader after Russia last week prevented a UN Security Council committee from imposing sanctions over human rights abuses by the group.
The United States and Germany earlier this month proposed that the Council's 15-member Libya sanctions committee impose an asset freeze and travel ban on Kaniyat.
However, such a move has to be agreed by consensus and Russia said on Friday it could not approve the sanctions because it wanted to see more evidence first that the group’s members had killed civilians.
The US sanctions were imposed Wednesday under the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows the US government to target human rights violators worldwide by freezing assets and prohibiting Americans from doing business with them.
"Mohamed al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia have tortured and killed civilians during a cruel campaign of oppression in Libya," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
“The United States stands with the Libyan people and will use the tools and authorities at its disposal to target human rights abusers in Libya and across the world,” he added.
“The Kaniyat militia is also responsible for hundreds of summary executions at Tarhouna prison, numerous forced disappearances, and the displacement of entire families from Tarhouna,” said the Treasury.