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U.S. adds more Syrian individuals, entities for sanctions

(Xinhua)

09:55, December 02, 2011

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Department of Treasury on Thursday added two high-ranking Syrians and two more government- controlled entities for sanctions, in an effort to increase pressure on the Arab nation to stop violence against protesters.

Muhammad Makhluf, the maternal uncle of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Aus Aslan, a general in the Syrian military and commander within Syria's 4th Armored Division, were accused of offering support for the embattled president.

The Treasury said that the Military Housing Establishment, a public works company controlled by the Syrian Ministry of Defense, provides funding to the regime, while the Real Estate Bank, the second largest bank in Syria, is owned by the Syrian government's Public Debt Fund, an institution responsible for administering the government's borrowings.

The moves, which came in the wake of measures announced by the Arab League, Turkey and the EU, "demonstrate a commitment by the United States and its partners to work in close coordination to bring pressure to bear on the Assad regime, its agencies and instrumentalities by denying them access to the U.S. and international financial system," the Treasury said in a statement.

"It has never been more critical to escalate pressure on the Syrian government to immediately cease all violence against its own people and isolate the regime from the international financial system," said Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen.

"We will continue to work closely with our partners in Europe and around the world to hasten a transition to democracy in Syria, " he added.

Syria was plunged into turmoil in March when anti-government protests broke out. The U.S, the EU, the Arab League and Turkey have slapped targeted sanctions on the Arab country, but violence continues there and has claimed more than 3,500 lives, the United Nations estimates.

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