US lifts sanctions on Syria's former prime minister

WASHINGTON - The United States on Tuesday lifted financial sanctions against former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab after his decision to leave Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.
The decision was announced by the Treasury Department, which said that Hijab would no longer be subject to US sanctions against senior Syrian officials, including a freeze on any assets he held under US jurisdiction.
At the State Department, officials said such a move by Washington did not have any bearing on what Syrians rebelling against Assad's government may eventually decide concerning the accountability of former officials of that government.
"This designation in the first place was part of our larger sanctions policy vis-a-vis Syria, which is designed to squeeze the regime individually, collectively, and dry up the money that it uses to perpetrate its crimes," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a regular daily news briefing.
"So when you have individuals who have broken with the regime, they should no longer be subject to those sanctions ... This is not a judgment about his (Hijab's) accountability, which is something for the Syrian people to decide," Nuland said.