"The actions the administration has taken today send an unequivocal
message to President Assad, the Syrian leadership, and regime insiders that
they will be held accountable for the ongoing violence and repression in
Syria," Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen said.
Under the sanctions announced on May 18, assets of Assad and his aides
in the United States would be frozen and Americans could not engage them in
business, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials acknowledged that Treasury was not aware that the Syrian
leadership held bank accounts or any other identifiable property in the
This marked the second set of U.S. sanctions on the Assad regime. In the
first set of sanctions in April 2011, Assad's brother rather than the
president was designated.
Treasury said the Syrian president as well as Vice President Farouk
A-Shaara, Prime Minister Adel Safar, Interior Minister Ibrahim Al Shaar,
Defense Minister Ali Habib, military intelligence chief Abdul Qudsiya and
Political Security Directorate Mohammed Zaytoun would come under sanctions.
Officials said Habib had avoided the first set of sanctions in hope that he
would prevent the army from participating in the crackdown.
"President Assad and his regime must immediately end the use of
violence, answer the calls of the Syrian people for a more representative
government, and embark upon the path of meaningful democratic reform," Cohen
Officials said the United States was coordinating measures against Syria
with the European Union. They said the EU, which matched the first set of
U.S. sanctions, was expected to penalize the Syrian president himself in
The administration has also been consulting with Turkey on U.S. policy
toward Assad. Turkish President Recep Erdogan was said to have urged
Washington not to pressure the Syrian regime.