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Trump to sanction Syria’s dictator for human rights abuses

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On Wednesday, the United States announced fresh sanctions on individuals and entities whom it views as “key enablers” of the massive human rights abuses committed by Syria’s authoritarian regime, Reuters and The Hill have reported.

President Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s longtime dictator, has been embroiled in a civil war for the past nine years, during which his government has routinely perpetrated human rights violations. In its effort to cut off the regime’s monetary sources, the U.S. will sanction six people and 13 institutions, including the Central Bank of Syria and parts of the Syrian military among others.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both stood firm in justifying the move.

“The United States will continue to employ all of its tools and authorities to target the finances of anyone who profits from or facilitates the Assad regime’s abuse of the Syrian people,” Mnuchin said in a statement.

“Thus far, Assad’s foreign enablers have only emboldened his regime’s cronies and deepened their involvement in the exploitative financial and military apparatus that underpins the regime’s survival,” Pompeo said in a different statement.

“There is a clear path forward,” he added. “The Syrian people have suffered enough.”

If Assad’s regime wants the sanctions to stop, Pompeo asserted, he must come to the table, accept, and implement the United Nations’ peace plan for finally ending the civil war.

The targeting of officials, commanders and “corrupt business leaders will not cease,” he said.

“Until the Assad regime and its enablers take irreversible steps to end their campaign of violence against the Syrian people and genuinely implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254,” added Pompeo.

The Syrian Civil War, sparked by the Assad government’s bloody 2011 crackdown of Arab Spring protests, quickly evolved into one of the deadliest conflicts to afflict the Middle East in decades. As of March 2020, the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights has documented 384,000 deaths from the conflict. The resulting humanitarian crisis forced 6.6 million refugees to flee the war-torn country, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Taliban Holds Parade for 250 Newly Trained Soldiers with American-Made Weapons Left Behind

As the result of an ill-prepared withdrawal that went horribly wrong, the Taliban now holds a large stock of weapons and equipment left behind.

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On Sunday, Taliban forces held a very bone-chilling parade showing off their captured American-made armored military vehicles and Russian helicopters. The act was “a display that showed their ongoing transformation from an insurgent force to a regular standing army” writes CNN.

The Taliban are no longer terror insurgents fighting against American forces that had once freed Afghanistan from the Taliban. As the result of an ill-prepared withdrawal that went horribly wrong, the Taliban now holds a large stock of weapons and equipment left behind.

The parade was part of a graduation for 250 newly trained Taliban soldiers, said defense ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khwarazmi. CNN reports, “The exercise involved dozens of US-made M117 armored security vehicles driving slowly up and down a major Kabul road with MI-17 helicopters patrolling overhead. Many soldiers carried American-made M4 assault rifles.”

Tragically, much of the weaponry taunted in the parade by Taliban forces were supplied by the United States to the American-backed government in Kabul during the past two decades. The equipment was to aid an Afghan national force and make it capable of fighting the Taliban.

As forces fled Afghanistan, some of the military equipment provided by western forces was flown into Central Asian Countries in an attempt to avoid it landing in the hands of the Taliban. It remains unclear exactly how much of what did end up in Taliban control is still operational.

American troops destroyed over 70 aircraft and dozens of armored vehicles, as well as disabled air defenses before flying out of Kabul during the frenetic evacuation. CNN reports “Taliban officials have said that pilots, mechanics and other specialists from the former Afghan National Army would be integrated into a new force, which has also started wearing conventional military uniforms in place of the traditional Afghan clothing normally worn by their fighters.”

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