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US amends Syria sanctions rules to allow NGOs engage in transactions, activities

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Aiming to facilitate humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, the United States on Wednesday took action to let nongovernmental organizations deal with elements of Syria’s government despite American sanctions and gave them wider latitude in their activities.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said it amended existing rules called the Syrian Sanctions Regulations to expand the authorizations for NGOs to engage in certain transactions and activities.

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It also amended a general license for NGOs to enable them to take part in additional transactions and activities in support of not-for-profit actions in Syria including new investment, purchase of refined petroleum products of Syrian origin for use in Syria and certain transactions with parts of the government.

“The US government prioritizes expanding humanitarian access throughout Syria to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, who continue to face armed conflict, food insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement.

The department said the new transactions and activities in the amended general license are authorized only in support of not-for-profit activities already allowed such as humanitarian projects and democracy-building.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration last June imposed sweeping US sanctions targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his inner circle to choke off revenue for his government in a bid to force it back to UN-led negotiations and broker an end to the country’s decade-long war.

“The United States continues to focus on deterring the malign activities of Bashar al-Assad, his regime, cronies and foreign enablers, as well as terrorist groups, including by limiting their ability to access the international financial system and global supply chains,” Gacki said.

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