US sanctioning Syrian officials, groups over human rights abuses

US sanctioning Syrian officials, groups over human rights abuses
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The United States sanctioned multiple Syrian officials and groups on Wednesday over human rights abuses, saying they “perpetuated the suffering of the Syrian people.”

The U.S. sanctioned eight Syrian prisons, five Assad-regime officials who run the facilities, two militia groups and two militia leaders, Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenAides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE said in a statement.

The prisons were highlighted in photos provided by a photographer who defected from the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, which exposed the “regime’s cruel treatment of detainees,” Blinken said.

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“The world must renew its shared resolve to promote the dignity and human rights of all Syrians,” he said. “The Assad regime must know that these steps are critical to any lasting peace or economic prosperity in Syria.”

The sanctions included ones against Saydnaya Military Prison, which is operated by Syrian Military Intelligence.

According to a separate statement from the Treasury Department, it is estimated that between 5,000 and 13,000 people have been executed at the prison between 2011 and 2015.  

Sanctions will also be levied against Saraya al-Areen, a militia affiliated with the Syrian Arab Army that participated in the 2020 offensive operation to return Idlib to regime control.

The State Department said nearly 1 million Syrians are still displaced from the operation, and “ongoing artillery attacks continue to harm civilians along the frontlines.”

The U.S. will also impose sanctions on Ahrar al-Sharqiya, an armed opposition group that was involved in looting private property and barring civilians from returning to their homes. Two leaders of the group were also sanctioned.

Ahrar al-Sharqiya has been implicated in the 2019 killing of Syrian Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf, the agency said. The group has also integrated numerous former ISIS members into its ranks.