(August 20, 2020 / JNS) The United States sanctioned Syrian President Bashar Assad’s top press officer and a prominent member of the Syrian Ba’ath Party, in addition to three senior Syrian military officials. on Thursday.
Luna Al Shibl is a prominent member of Assad’s inner circle. A former television news anchor, she is an advisor to Assad, his press officer and one of the most senior press officials in the Syrian government, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
During Al Shibl’s tenure with the Syrian government, she has been instrumental in developing Assad’s false narrative that he maintains control of the country and that the Syrian people flourish under his leadership. Despite countless Syrian civilians living under desperate siege in Syria’s decade-long war, Al Shibl allegedly orchestrated photo ops for Assad among cheering Syrians, according to the Treasury Department.
Additionally, the United States sanctioned Mohamad Ammar Saati bin Mohamad Nawzad (Saati), a longtime leader within the Ba’ath Party, a former Syrian parliamentarian, and the husband of Al Shibl.
“These Syrian government officials actively contribute to the oppression of the Assad regime,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “The United States will continue to impose costs on those facilitating the Assad regime’s ongoing war against its own people.”
Since the early 1990s, Saati has held multiple official leadership positions within the Syrian Ba’ath Party, including his appointment to the Central Committee, a committee headed by Assad. Saati has served in high-ranking positions in both the Regional Command and Central Committee of the Syrian Ba’ath Party, which includes some of the highest-ranking members of the Assad regime and are instrumental in shaping the Syrian Government’s brutal policies.
Until recently, he was also president of the National Union of Syrian Students (NUSS), an organization with branches inside and outside of Syria used to promote the Syrian Ba’ath Party, according to the Treasury Department.
According to the department, Saati is credited with the idea of creating the “Ba’ath Brigades,” a group of student volunteer fighters that augmented the Syrian armed forces. Under his leadership, the NUSS recruited students and processed their applications for membership in the pro-Assad militia group.
Finally, the United States sanctioned senior Syrian military officials: Cmdr. Fadi Saqr, Brig. Cmdr. Gen. Ghaith Dalah and Cmdr. Samer Ismail.
The move freezes any U.S. assets of those sanctioned and generally bars Americans from dealing with these individuals.
“These senior officials lead the same Syrian military that has killed children with barrel bombs and used chemicals weapons against communities like Ghouta. They have shattered the social contract between citizens and the military sworn to protect them,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Today’s sanctions reinforce our commitment to hold Assad’s generals and militia commanders accountable for their violations and abuses.”
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