NEW YORK - The United States designated 14 Syrian individuals and entities for sanctions Wednesday, including President Bashar al-Assad's eldest son and a division of the Syrian Army.
"It is time for Assad's needless, brutal war to end," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft told a Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria. "This, above all, is what our sanctions campaign is meant to bring about."
The designations are under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which was enacted last month, as well as a 2011 Executive Order.
The Caesar Act takes its name from the alias of a Syrian defector who smuggled out of the country tens of thousands of images of the torture and executions happening in Syrian government prisons in the early days of the conflict. A forensic photographer for the military police, he had taken many of the images himself.
"We have named today's tranche of designations the Hama and Maarat al-Numan sanctions," Craft said.
Craft said the name memorializes the victims of atrocities carried out in those cities in 2011 and 2019, respectively.
In June 2011, as the popular uprising against Assad intensified, government forces killed dozens of peaceful protesters in Hama. In July 2019, the government carried out airstrikes in the northwestern town of Maarat al-Numan, killing more than 40 people in the bombing of the city's market.
"Today's actions are intended to hold the murderous Assad regime accountable," a White House spokesperson said in a statement. "They are not directed at the Syrian people, whom the United States supports in their efforts for peace, stability, and rule of law."
Among the new designations are President Bashar al-Assad's 18-year-old son, Hafez. The president's cousin, Major General Zuhair Tawfiq al-Assad, is listed for his role in perpetuating the nearly-decade old conflict, as is the First Division of the Syrian Arab Army for obstructing a cease-fire.
The U.S. Treasury Department is sanctioning investors and companies who support the Assad government's reconstruction efforts. The measures would block any of their property within reach of the U.S. government and also could lead to sanctions on third parties who do business with them.
"The United States remains committed to providing humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, while the Assad regime seeks to profit from their suffering," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Since 2011, the United States has provided more than $11.3 billion in humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people.