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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

US Freezes Syrian Officials' Assets

VOA News April 29, 2011

The United States is imposing new sanctions on three top Syrian officials, the country's intelligence agency and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for their roles in a Syrian crackdown on anti-government protesters.

U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order imposing the sanctions Friday. They call for freezing any assets the five targets may have in the United States, and declare it illegal for Americans to do business with them.

The practical effect of the sanctions, however, may be mostly symbolic - a statement that the U.S. opposes the crackdown by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that has led to the deaths of hundreds of protesters. None of the targets of the sanctions is believed to have substantial assets in U.S. institutions.

The three Syrian officials named in the sanctions included two relatives of President Assad. One was identified as his brother, Mahir al-Assad, a brigade commander in the Syrian Army's 4th Armored Division. The other relative of the president is one of his cousins, Atif Najib, former head of the Political Security Directorate for Daraa, the center of the protest movement against the government.

The sanctions also target Syria's General Intelligence Directorate and its director, Ali Mamluk. The U.S. has accused them of repressing dissent and killing protesters in Daraa.

The U.S. has already sanctioned the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, for supporting militant groups around the world. The Obama administration believes the Quds Force is the conduit for Iran's support for the Syrian crackdown.

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