US sanctions under the Caesar Act, announced Wednesday, targeted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wife, Asma, for the first time.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a special note of her designation, who he said had become one of Syria’s most notorious war profiteers.
Pompeo said that with the support of “her husband and members of her Akhras family has become one of Syria’s most notorious war profiteers. Now anyone doing business with any of these persons or entities is at risk of sanctions.”
Separately, a senior US official said that sanctions, in general, target family members because they are often used to move financial and other resources of sanctioned individuals.
“But I have to say that Asma al-Assad contributes personally in enough ways to the horrors that are today’s Syria to merit being sanctioned in her own right, not just as the wife of President Assad,” US Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey said in a phone briefing.
Alongside Asma, the Syrian president’s younger brother, Maher, and his wife were also sanctioned. Several individuals from the Hamsho family were sanctioned as well. Mohammed Hamsho, a Syrian business tycoon, is reported to be close to Bashar al-Assad’s younger brother, Maher.