The statement said the armored
division has played a leading role in the bloody crackdown on the
opposition, particularly in the southern city of Dera.
The Syrian opposition dismissed the U.S. sanctions as a meaningless
gesture. The Washington-based Reform Party of Syria, citing the absence of
sanctions on the president himself, said the administration must work to
"For the record, Maher Assad has never done business with the United
States," RPS said.
"Does anyone at State [Department] thinks Maher Assad
needs to do business here?"
"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 White House said.
Officials acknowledged that the sanctions would not have a direct affect
on the Assad regime. They said the administration has not identified Assad
regime assets in the United States.
Assad's cousin, Atif Najib, was also designated for sanctions. Najib was
identified as commander of Political Security Directorate in the Dera
province during March 2011. General Intelligence Directorate chief Ali
Mamluk, said to have been involved in the killings in Dera, was also cited
"This [presidential] order provides the United States with new tools to
target individuals and entities determined to have engaged in human rights
abuses in Syria, including those related to repression; to be a senior
official of an entity whose property is blocked pursuant to the order; to
have provided material support to, or to be owned or controlled by, persons
blocked under the
order," the White House said.
The United States also imposed sanctions on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary
Guard Corps, said to maintain a large presence in Syria. The White House
said IRGC's Quds Force, under U.S. sanctions since 2007, was helping the
Assad regime in the crackdown, but did not elaborate.
"The conduit for this Iranian material support to the Syrian General
Intelligence Directorate is the IRGC-QF," the White House said.
"Despite the government of Iran's public rhetoric claiming revolutionary solidarity with
people throughout the region, Iran's actions in support of the Syrian regime
place it in stark opposition to the will of the Syrian people."