November 26, 2020

U.S. Sanctions Syria Central-Bank Governor, Intelligence Chief and Others

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration blacklisted several top Syrian officials and alleged financiers on Wednesday, including the central-bank governor and an intelligence chief, part of a series of U.S. actions meant to oust longtime ruler President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. Treasury and State Departments said their actions were designed to hold individuals accountable for helping a government accused by Western officials and human-rights groups of committing war crimes throughout its long-running civil war, including the use of chemical weapons.

Blacklisting several prominent business people, including Khodr Taher Bin Ali, and 13 of his companies, should also help disrupt funding flows that help keep Mr. Assad and his family in power, Treasury officials say.

Besides running telephone, tourism and transport companies that the U.S. says are used to launder money for the regime, the Treasury Department said, Mr. Bin Ali’s Castle Security and Protection LLC has helped raise funds by taking bribes manning border checkpoints as a contractor for Syrian security services.

“Those who continue to stand with the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad further enable its corruption and human rights abuses,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, adding more sanctions would be forthcoming.

The Syrian mission to the United Nations didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Efforts to reach Mr. Bin Ali weren’t immediately successful.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions mark the third anniversary of an attack that killed 32 civilians, including more than a dozen children, in the northwestern town of Armanaz near the Turkish border. The assault by Assad forces was widely condemned, including by the U.S., for use of a barrel bomb, a weapon internationally banned because its size, poor accuracy and widespread dispersal of shrapnel can indiscriminately kill.

The Treasury Department said it blacklisted Husam Muhammad Louka, head of one four intelligence units, because of his alleged involvement in several massacres in Homs, including a bombing at a playground that killed 19 people, mostly children. The Treasury Department said Syria’s central-bank governor, Hazem Younes Karfoul, was targeted for his role in facilitating the Assad government, including helping orchestrate private-sector financial support.

The sanctions freeze any assets the targets may have within U.S. jurisdiction and prevent their travel, as well as complicating their financing and business overseas as other nations enforce U.S. sanctions.

As part of Wednesday’s action, the State Department also blacklisted military commander Milad Jedid for allegedly obstructing international efforts to secure a cease-fire, and the adult sisters of alleged Assad financier Yasser Ibrahim, Nasreen and Rana, who the U.S. say are involved in using their family’s companies to expand the government’s grip on the economy.

The sisters couldn’t immediately be reached to comment.

Write to Ian Talley at [email protected]

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