U.S. government sanctions three Syrian companies

August 10th, 2011 - 11:00 pm ICT by BNO News  

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The U.S. government on Wednesday announced new sanctions against Syria by including the country’s largest commercial bank and the country’s biggest mobile phone company.

The U.S. Treasury Department said it added the Commercial Bank of Syria, a Syrian state-owned financial institution, and its Lebanon-based subsidiary, Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank, and Syriatel, the largest mobile phone operator in Syria, to its sanctions list, prohibiting U.S. citizens from engaging in commercial or financial transactions with those companies and any assets owned by them in U.S. jurisdiction have been frozen.

“By exposing Syria’s largest commercial bank as an agent for designated Syrian and North Korean proliferators, and by targeting Syria’s largest mobile phone operator for being controlled by one of the regime’s most corrupt insiders, we are taking aim at the financial infrastructure that is helping provide support to [Syrian President] Asad and his regime’s illicit activities,” said U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against Muhammad Hamsho who is a Syrian member of parliament and the head of Hamsho International Group which has 20 subsidiary or affiliated companies.

In mid-March, pro-democracy demonstrations began in Syria and have continued across the country, which has been ruled by the Baath Party since 1963. Protesters are demanding the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, who took over from his father in 2000.

Human rights groups have said that more than 2,000 people have died since the government crackdown on protesters began in mid-March and tens of thousands have been arrested. Global campaign group Avaaz said earlier that almost 3,000 people have also been forcibly disappeared.

Assad previously said that the recent events in the country are a conspiracy against national unity. The Syrian government has repeatedly claimed that the violent acts have been instigated by terrorists who use military uniforms and weaponry to pose as soldiers while attacking citizens.

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