US sanctions Syrian prisons, Assad regime officials over human rights abuses
The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on eight prisons in Syria, officials who run them, and armed groups and leaders over human rights abuses. According to a statement issued by Secretary of State Tony Blinken, the sanctions are in line with Washington’s commitment to promote respect for human rights and accountability for abuse against Syrians in the country.
“The United States is sanctioning eight Syrian prisons, five Assad regime officials in the institutions that run those facilities, two militia groups, and two militia leaders,” the Secretary of State said in the statement. Some of these prisons are featured in photographs captured by former Syrian military photographer “Caesar”. The photographs showed brutal treatment by the Assad regime officials of detainees in prisons, a majority of whom have links with military intelligence agencies.
“These prisons have been sites of human rights abuses against political prisoners and other detainees,” the Treasury said. The US Treasury Department also sanctioned armed rebel group Ahrar al-Sharqiya and two of its leaders on account of serious human rights violations including unlawful killings, torture, and abductions, against civilians during years of civil war in Syria.
Atrocities against Syrian people
In the statement, Blinken added that these sanctions are aimed at promoting accountability for individuals and entities that have intensified the suffering of Syrians. As per the Syrian Network for Human Rights, over 14,000 detainees have died due to torture and ill-treatment at the hands of the Assad regime and more than 130,000 Syrians are reported missing or detained.
The Biden administration further slammed the Assad regime for “waging a ruthless war against the Syrian people and imprisoning hundreds of thousands of civilians demanding reform and change in the country”. In conclusion, the US called on the international community to join the call for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria as well as the immediate release of thousands of detainees.
“The Assad regime must know that these steps are critical to any lasting peace or economic prosperity in Syria,” Blinken added. In the aftermath of the sanctions, the US will block all assets of the targeted entities and individuals and Americans will be barred from carrying out any dealing with them.
Assad takes oath for 4th term
These sanctions have come days after President Bashar al-Assad took the oath of office for the fourth term after winning 95 percent of the vote in presidential polls in the war-ravaged country. However, the May 26 election which resulted in Assad’s victory was discredited by the West as “neither free nor fair”. Western countries, including the US and European Union, have accused the Assad regime of carrying out atrocities against civilians in the decade-long war.