US sanctions allies of Syria's Assad amid fears over Idlib attack

US sanctions allies of Syria's Assad amid fears over Idlib attack
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The U.S. on Thursday announced new sanctions on allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad amid concerns over an imminent assault on Idlib province.

The Treasury Department said it was targeting four individuals and five entities for facilitating weapons and fuel transfers to the Assad government, some of whom the U.S. accuses of being linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“Millions of innocent people in Idlib province are currently under the threat of imminent attack from the Assad regime, backed by Iran and Russia, under the pretense of targeting ISIS.  At the same time, the Assad regime has a history of trading with the terror group,” Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump announces tariffs on 0B in Chinese goods Trump: China tariff announcement to come Monday afternoon Trump could hit China with tariffs of 0 billion as soon as Monday MORE said in a statement.

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The U.S. Treasury said one individual, Muhammad al-Qatirji, and his firm are both tied to ISIS. 

“The United States will continue to target those who facilitate transactions with the murderous Assad regime and support ISIS," Mnuchin said in the statement. 

The statement claims Mal-Qatirji "maintains strong ties to the Syrian regime and facilitates fuel trade between the regime and ISIS." Qatirji and his firm, Qatirji Company, are both being sanctioned. 

The sanctions come two days after the Trump administration warned Assad against using chemical weapons on his citizens and Russia conducted strikes in Idlib. 

“The United States is closely monitoring the situation in Idlib province, Syria, where millions of innocent civilians are under threat of an imminent Assad regime attack, backed by Russia and Iran,” the White House said in a statement on Tuesday. "President Donald J. Trump has warned that such an attack would be a reckless escalation of an already tragic conflict and would risk the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Russian planes struck the Idlib province, where rebels combating force loyal to Assad maintain their last major stronghold, with dozens of airstrikes on Tuesday. The strikes were accompanied with Assad regime artillery and killed at least 17 civilians, including five children, The Wall Street Journal reported.