U.S. to sanction Syria to block 'Assad regime from securing a military victory'

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June 16 (UPI) -- The United States said it will impose sanctions against Syria on Wednesday to force it to comply with U.N.-led negotiations to end the nearly decade-long civil war.

Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, informed the U.N. Security Council via teleconference on Tuesday that the Trump administration would go forward with the sanctions Wednesday to "prevent the Assad regime from securing a military victory" and to steer it and its allies back toward the U.N.-led political peace process.

"Our aim is to deprive the Assad regime of the revenue and the support it has used to commit the large-scale atrocities and human rights violations that prevent a political resolution and severely diminish the prospects for peace," she said.

The sanctions will be imposed under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, which goes into effect Wednesday. Signed by U.S. President Donald Trump in December of last year, the bill targets those who are complicit in human rights abuses in the war-torn country and who financially support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in order to deny him the means to continue "his campaign of violence and destruction," the U.S. Embassy in Syria said on the law's passing.

"The Assad regime has a clear choice to make: pursue the political path established in Resolution 2245," Craft said, referring to the U.N. plan to establish peace in Syria, "or leave the United States with no other choice but to continue withholding reconstruction funding and impose sanctions against the regime and its financial backers."

U.S. adversaries Russia and China balked at the sanctions, with Vassily Nebenzia, the Kremlin's representative at the legislative body, telling the council that the measures are an attempt to oust Assad through building unrest within the country's citizenry.

The United States recognizes "sanctions imposed allegedly against the Syrian leadership, in fact, hurt ordinary people," he said. "This said they confirm that the purpose of these measures is to overthrow the legitimate authorities of Syria."

Russia has repeatedly said sanctions not only cripple the country's economy but hinder humanitarian assistance, he said.

Zhang Hun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, urged the United States to lift sanctions against Syria, stating they will stymie economic and social development, China's state-run Xinhua reported.

The U.N.'s special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, warned that international armies in the country and sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union will make it difficult for those in Syria to end the war through negotiations alone.

"Syria is going through a time of great flux," Pedersen said. "Nobody involved in the conflict should presume that time is on their side. Nobody should be sure that there will be better openings down the road."

More than 380,000 people have been killed during the nine-year civil war, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is a Britain-based human rights monitor of the conflict.

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