FILE - A South Sudanese soldier stands next to a machine gun mounted on a truck in Malakal town, northeast of Juba, South Sudan.
FILE - A South Sudanese soldier stands next to a machine gun mounted on a truck in Malakal town, northeast of Juba, South Sudan.

The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on three individuals it accuses of "expanding or extending" the conflict in South Sudan. 
The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) placed sanctions Friday on retired Israeli Maj. Gen. Israel Ziv, South Sudanese businessman Obac William Olawo and South Sudanese national Gregory Vasili.  Six entities owned or controlled by two of the individuals were also sanctioned. 
"Treasury is targeting individuals who have provided soldiers, armored vehicles and weapons used to fuel the conflict in South Sudan," said Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. 
The sanctions mean that "any property or interests in property of those designated by OFAC that is within or transiting U.S. jurisdiction or the possession or control of a U.S. person must be blocked and reported to OFAC." 
Vasili, also known as Aduol Gregory Deng Kuac, facilitated the transportation of South Sudanese soldiers and tanks around South Sudan and was involved in brokering deals for the sale of military equipment to the government, according to Mandelker. 
The U.S. accuses Olawo, who also goes by Olah Ubac William, of routinely importing armored vehicles for the South Sudan government and said it identified one of his entities as having transported soldiers, arms and equipment to support a government offensive.  
The third sanctioned individual, Ziv, also known as Zilberstein Israel Baruch, is accused of supplying both the government and opposition forces with weapons and ammunition. 

FILE - Rights activist John Prendergast speaks to
FILE - Rights activist John Prendergast speaks to reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council during a meeting on maintenance of international peace and security at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 10, 2018.

?'System of grand corruption'

John Prendergast, founding director of the Washington-based Enough Project, which has tracked atrocities in South Sudan, welcomed the new sanctions.  
"Network sanctions, like the ones imposed by the U.S. government today, begin to get at the system of grand corruption that fuels extreme violence in South Sudan and actually makes war profitable," Prendergast said. 
Brian Adeba, deputy director of policy at the Enough Project, told VOA's South Sudan in Focus it's important that the U.S. is going after people who control military resources outside the country.  
"These third parties come in the likes of the Israeli general, they come in the likes of foreign companies that facilitate this, and therefore the action by the United States, which is what we call network sanctions, is very crucial to sort of stymieing the advent of these wars, holding the perpetrators of these conflicts accountable for their actions," he said. 
On Saturday,  it will be five years since the conflict broke out in South Sudan, in which hundreds of thousands of people have died and more than 4 million have been displaced from their homes, either living inside U.N.-protected sites or in neighboring countries.