U.S. imposes sanctions on Syrian prisons, officials

FILE PHOTO: People walk past posters depciting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, ahead of the May 26 presidential election, in the district of al-Waer in Homs, Syria May 23, 2021. Picture taken May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department said on Wednesday it had imposed sanctions on eight Syrian prisons run by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's intelligence apparatus and five senior officials who control the sites, where human rights abuses have taken place.

The Treasury Department also put sanctions on Syrian armed group Ahrar al-Sharqiya, which operates in northern Syria, for abuses against civilians, as well as on two of the group's leaders, it said in a statement.

"Today’s designations promote accountability for abuses committed against the Syrian people and deny rogue actors access to the international financial system," said Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Director Andrea Gacki. "This action demonstrates the United States' strong commitment to targeting human rights abuses in Syria, regardless of the perpetrator."

The prisons "have been sites of human rights abuses against political prisoners and other detainees," the statement said. It accused Ahrar al-Sharqiya of numerous crimes against civilians, especially Syrian Kurds, "including unlawful killings, abductions, torture, and seizures of private property."

In a separate statement, the Treasury said it had imposed sanctions on one Turkey-based al Qaeda financial facilitator for materially assisting the militant group as well as one Syria-based terrorist fundraiser and recruiter for providing material support to Hay’et Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), a militant group previously sanctioned under U.S. counter-terrorism authorities.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Tim Ahmann and Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Steve Orlofsky)

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