US adds sanctions on Syria, labels rebel chief a terrorist

May 17, 2013 00:24
1 minute read.

WASHINGTON - The US government on Thursday blacklisted four Syrian government ministers, an airline and a television station it said helped the Assad government in its two-year crackdown on opposition forces.

The same day, the State Department labeled as a terrorist Mohammad al-Golani, for being the leader of the al-Nusra Front. The group is one of the most effective forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but also pledged allegiance to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri last month.

The move follows broad US sanctions on any aid to Syria since the beginning of the civil war between President Bashar Assad's government and opposition groups that has killed an estimated 80,000 people.

The US Treasury Department said the government-owned airline, Syrian Arab Airlines, helped Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards ship illegal cargo - including rockets, anti-aircraft guns and ammunition - to aid the Syrian government.

The United States also accused the privately held Al-Dunya Television of assisting Assad's propaganda by airing forced confessions. Al-Dunya also helped the government disseminate fake weapons busts and arrest people it had interviewed, according to Treasury.

Treasury also blacklisted, or designated, four Syrian officials: the ministers of defense, health, industry, and justice, as part of its broader steps to stymie the government's activities. The defense minister, Fahed Jaseem al-Freij, has been in charge of Syria's armed forces during air strikes and executions of civilians, according to the US government.

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