Biden launches first sanctions against Assad government entities and officials

The Government of the President of the United States, Joe Biden, has made public on Wednesday its first sanctions against Syrian officials and entities for alleged violations against Human Rights, in total eight individuals and ten companies have been included in the blacklist of the Treasury Department.

“The individuals and entities we are designating today have been [involved in] serious human rights violations, including overseeing the torture and killing of detainees,” explained the director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Andrea M. Gacki.

Thus, the OFAC has informed that among those sanctioned there are eight detention centers managed by the intelligence services of the Government of the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, as they consider that they have served as spaces to commit human rights abuses against “political prisoners and other detainees, as well as “five senior security officials” responsible for their operation.

One of these detention centers is the Saydnaya military prison, with “a long and well-documented history of serious human rights abuses”. According to U.S. intelligence, this facility “could hold between 10,000 and 20,000 detainees,” while “between 5,000 and 13,000 people” have been extrajudicially executed in prison and buried in mass graves between 2011 and 2015.

“The Al Assad regime has waged a ruthless war against the Syrian people, imprisoning hundreds of thousands of Syrians calling for reform and change, at least 14,000 of whom have been tortured to death. According to reports, more than 130,000 people remain missing or detained to this day, the vast majority of whom are presumed dead or detained without legal representation,” he ventured.

OFAC has also sanctioned the armed group Ahrar al Sharqiya, which operates in northern Syria, and which has reportedly drawn its ranks from former Islamic State terrorists, as well as two of its top leaders. Washington accuses them of abuses against civilians, “horrific acts that compound the suffering of a population that has repeatedly suffered massive displacement.”

“The militia has also engaged in kidnappings, torture, and seizures of civilian private property, preventing displaced Syrians from returning to their homes. Al Sharqiya built and controls a large prison complex on the outskirts of Aleppo, where hundreds have been executed since 2018,” Treasury recounts.

Gacki says that with this new battery of sanctions, the United States “demonstrates the firm commitment” it has against those who commit Human Rights abuses in Syria, regardless of the perpetrator.”

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