Trump Admin Escalates Sanctions on Syria’s Assad Regime

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad / Getty
June 17, 2020

The Trump administration on Wednesday issued wide-ranging new sanctions on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, sending a message to international companies that if they work with Assad’s regime they will face crippling penalties.

"Today we begin a sustained campaign of sanctions against the Assad regime under the Caesar Act, which authorizes severe economic sanctions to hold the Assad regime and its foreign enablers accountable for their brutal acts against the Syrian people," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

The new sanctions target 24 individuals and entities who are actively supporting reconstruction efforts on behalf of Assad's regime.

The designations are the first to be imposed under the Caesar Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation passed earlier this year instructing the Trump administration to target any business or individual that provides assistance to Assad and his backers, which include Russia and Iran. The legislation is named after a Syrian dissident who, under the pseudonym Caesar, documented widespread atrocities by Assad, including the murder and poisoning of civilians.

A large portion of the new sanctions target companies that helped Assad destroy civilian strongholds in order to pave the way for the construction of luxury properties. Those companies include the Damascus Cham Holding Company and its affiliates. Several Syria-based contractors and tourism companies also have been hit with sanctions for their dealings with the Assad regime.