President Obama signed an Executive Order imposing sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and six other senior Syrian government officials, including the vice president and prime minister. The sanctions were imposed in an effort to pressure the Syrian government into ending its violent crackdown of anti-government protests that began in mid-March.
"The actions the Administration has taken today send an unequivocal message to President Assad, the Syrian leadership, and regime insiders that they will be held accountable for the ongoing violence and repression in Syria," said Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. "President al-Assad and his regime must immediately end the use of violence, answer the calls of the Syrian people for a more representative government, and embark upon the path of meaningful democratic reform."
In a further effort to force the Syrian government to halt its oppressive and deadly tactics, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated 10 individuals and entities in accordance with Executive Order 13572, signed by President Obama on April 29. This order singled out additional Syrian officials and entities for human rights abuses and effectively blocked all their property in the United States. It also prohibits people in the United States from engaging in business with those listed.
Among the individuals and entities designated in this E.O. are President Assad's cousin, who is a senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate; as well as the Syrian Military and Air Force Intelligence services; and the National Security Bureau.
Syrian activists say more than 850 people have been killed and thousands arrested in the government campaign to stop the protests. The United States, however, on Tuesday estimated the number dead to be closer to 1,000 people.