US sanctions Syria intel officer, warns against restoring ties with Assad regime

Amjad Yousef, an Assad regime military intelligence officer, murdered at least 41 unarmed civilians in Tadamon in 2013, the top US diplomat said.

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The US sanctioned a Syrian intelligence officer on Monday, accusing him of “coldly and methodically” murdering at least 41 unarmed civilians in 2013 and warning countries against normalizing ties with the Assad regime.

Next month will mark 12 years since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, which has pitted the Assad regime, backed by Iran and Russia, against opposition groups, some of which have turned into terror organizations.

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Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed during the yearslong war, many of which have been victims of the Assad regime’s brutal tactics.

Legal bodies and much of the international community have asserted that the Assad regime committed war crimes and crimes against humanity throughout the years.

“One of these atrocities was a massacre committed in Tadamon, a neighborhood of Damascus, where on April 16, 2013, Amjad Yousef, an Assad regime military intelligence officer, murdered at least 41 unarmed civilians,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

He pointed to video evidence that was first publicly shared last year after an investigation by independent researchers.

Yousef is seen shooting dozens of civilians as they run into a pit, which is then set on fire.

As a result of Monday’s sanctions, Yousef, his wife and their immediate family members are banned from entering the US.

In an indirect jab at countries that have restored diplomatic ties with Syria or are considering doing so, Blinken issued a warning.

“The footage of this massacre, coupled with the ongoing killing and abuse of countless Syrians, serves as a sobering reminder for why countries should not normalize relations with the Assad regime absent enduring progress towards a political resolution,” he said.

Several Arab and Gulf countries have normalized ties with Syria after being on opposite sides of the fight for most of the 12-year-old war.

But Washington has refused to budge or ease crippling economic sanctions on the Syrian government and its officials. It has demanded a peaceful solution and political agreement between warring sides.

“Our support for the brave Syrians who continue to risk their lives to hold the Assad regime accountable will not waver, and we will pursue every measure to find justice for victims and survivors of atrocities and to promote accountability for those responsible, including the Assad regime and its allies,” Blinken said.

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