The same day the United Nations is expected to vote on a new Security Council resolution covering Syria, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it is extending its sanctions on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and companies linked to it.
"Today's actions reflect the unwavering commitment of the United States to pressure the Assad regime to end the carnage and relinquish power," Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said.
He added, "As long as Assad stays in power, the bloodshed and instability in Syria will only mount, and we will continue working with our partners in the international community to ensure that the inevitable political transition occurs as rapidly as possible."
The sanctions target 29 Syrian government officials, including the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Justice, the Governor of the Central Bank and other members of President Assad's cabinet.
The new sanctions also put restrictions on five companies linked to the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), the government agency charged with developing and producing missiles and their biological and chemical weapon payloads.
The companies include Industrial Solutions, Mechanical Construction Factory (MCF), Handasieh (a.k.a. General Organization for Engineering Industries), Business Lab, Syrian Arab Company for Electronic Industries (a.k.a. Syronics) and Drex Technologies, a Virgin Islands-based company controlled by Assad's cousin Rami Makhluf.
"These actions freeze any assets the designated individuals or entities may hold in the U.S. and prohibit U.S. persons or companies from dealing with them," a Treasury Department press released confirmed.
The move comes the same day a new resolution on Syria is expected to fall flat at the United Nations due to opposition from Russia. The resolution would allow the UN to impose sanctions on Syria and authorize military action under Chapter 7 of the UN charter.
Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the resolution wouldn't work because "Assad won't quit...If we are talking about revolution, the UN has no business here."
In Syria this morning, rebel fighters stormed a national security building in Damascus, setting off a bomb that killed Syrian Defense Minister Gen. Daoud Rajha and Assad's brother-in-law and wounded several others.
Syrian opposition website Syrian Martyrs claims nearly 20,000 people have died since fighting began 16 months ago. In April, the Syrian foreign ministry said the number was actually 6,143.
by RTT Staff Writer
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