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U.S. slaps new sanctions on Syria, hoping for end to bloody civil war

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The United States on Tuesday levied a fresh round of sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, hoping the increased financial strain will bring a swifter end to the bloody civil war that has engulfed the nation since 2011. These latest sanctions target its central bank and blacklist several individuals and entities with ties to Assad’s dictatorial regime.

These new sanctions follow in the footsteps of sanctions imposed earlier this year on the regime.

RELATED: Trump to sanction Syria’s dictator for human rights abuses

“The United States will continue to seek accountability for those prolonging this conflict,” a Tuesday statement from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reads.

The civil war, which started from a violent crackdown on Arab Spring protests in 2011 and has subsequently brought in multiple foreign nations, has resulted in millions fleeing the war-torn country and millions displaced internally. On top of that, it is estimated that the conflict has taken the lives of 593,000 people, according to a report earlier this month from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“The Assad regime, supported by its enablers and allies,” says the statement, “refuses to end its needless, brutal war against the Syrian people, stalling efforts to reach a political resolution.”

In accordance with Executive Order 13894, the State Department said it is levying sanctions on Asma al-Assad, the wife of President Assad, “for impeding efforts to promote a political resolution of the Syrian conflict”; as well as on members of her immediate family, which include Fawaz Akhras, Sahar Otri Akhras, Firas al Akhras, and Eyad Akhras.

“Asma al-Assad has spearheaded efforts on behalf of the regime to consolidate economic and political power, including by using her so-called charities and civil society organizations,” Pompeo’s statement says.

“The Assad and Akhras families have accumulated their ill-gotten riches at the expense of the Syrian people through their control over an extensive, illicit network with links in Europe, the Gulf, and elsewhere,” Pompeo continues. “Meanwhile, the Syrian people continue to wait in long lines for bread, fuel, and medicine as the Assad regime chooses to cut subsidies for these basic essentials that Syrians need.”

Furthermore, the Department of the Treasury is also imposing sanctions on the Central Bank of Syria. Additional sanctions from the Treasury Department include those on Lina al-Kinayeh, one of Assad’s key advisers; her husband, Syrian parliamentarian Mohammed Masouti; and numerous businesses affiliated with the regime.

RELATED: Pompeo, Mnuchin say no clash exists between them over China-related E.O., after WSJ report

Moreover, the outgoing U.S. Secretary of State marked the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump signing the bipartisan Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 into effect, saying that “the United States will also continue to pressure the Assad regime and its enablers to prevent them from amassing the resources to perpetuate their atrocities.”

“As part of that effort,” Pompeo continues, the State Department additionally designated a Syria’s Military Intelligence (SMI) commander, General Kifah Moulhem, for “his role as one of the architects of the Syrian people’s suffering.” Thus, “for his actions in preventing a ceasefire in Syria,” sanctions have been imposed upon him.

Over the past few months, the Trump administration has made some significant headway in the foreign policy arena, hoping to ensure Trump is remembered for massive foreign policy achievements as president. This has primarily been the United States successfully brokering a series of historic peace deals between Israel and a number of Arab nations.

RELATED: ‘The dawn of a new Middle East’: UAE, Bahrain, Israel Sign Historic Peace Accords

RELATED: Morocco, Israel agree to normalize relations

RELATED: White House: Sudan and Israel to normalize relations

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’

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Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social,  “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”

Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”

It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.

Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.

And the escalation of war is visible.

Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.

Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.

Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”

The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”

F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.

Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.

 

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