İrem UZUN -TDO- The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on 39 individuals and entities including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma to choke off revenue for his government in a bid to push it back to United Nations-led negotiations. In a statement announcing the designations imposed under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, signed by President Donald Trump in December, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “many more” sanctions against Assad government should be expected in the coming weeks and months.

The act restricted new investments, exports, sales or supply of services to Syria by any American national or resident. The latest measures would target players anywhere in the world, including in the Gulf and Europe, who attempt to aid the al-Assad regime in its reconstruction efforts. Specifically, the measures would penalize any foreign company or donor who "knowingly, directly or indirectly, provides significant construction or engineering services to the Government of Syria". The measures would also affect companies in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, a move aimed at those regularly accused of smuggling goods into Syria. Under the act, any assets in the United States will be frozen. Pompeo in his statement charged that Asma al-Assad, with the support of her husband and family, "has become one of Syria's most notorious war profiteers."

There are fears that the sanctions will make the plight of ordinary Syrians even more desperate. The war-torn country is grappling with a worsening economic crisis. Syria's central bank devalued the Syrian pound Wednesday giving in to weeks of depreciation on the black market as new sanctions took effect.

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