U.S. Sanctions Target Assad Trading Link to Islamic State

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gestures during an exclusive interview with AFP in the capital Damascus on February 11, 2016. / AFP / JOSEPH EID (Photo credit should read JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

(AFP) WASHINGTON — The US Treasury announced sanctions Thursday targeting a network of business groups that supplies fuel to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, along with one that handles regime trade with the Islamic State group.

The Treasury said the four individuals and five companies added to its financial blacklist were important to helping Assad’s regime obtain much-needed crude oil and fuels despite sanctions on Syria.

It named Muhammad al-Qatirji and his Qatirji Company as a key broker of fuel trade between the Assad regime and the Islamic State group, despite the two sides fighting each other on the battlefield.

Qatirji provides oil products to the jihadist group but also ships weapons and food for the regime, according to the Treasury.

In a 2016 deal, it said, Qatirji was named the “exclusive agent” for providing suppliers to IS areas, according to the Treasury.

Also identified for sanctions was a Lebanon-United Arab Emirates network for fuel shipments to Syria involving Lebanon-based Abar Petroleum and company “adviser” Adnan al-Ali, and Lebanon-based Nasco Polymers and its owner Fadi Nasser.

Another group placed on the blacklist is UAE-based Hesco Engineering, which the Treasury said facilitates payments that originate in Syria.

The sanctions seek to freeze any property owned by those named in US jurisdictions and to block their access to the global financial system.

“Today’s action shows that the United States will continue to take concrete and forceful action to cut off material support to the Assad regime and its supporters,” the State Department said in a statement on the sanctions.

“The United States will continue to use all available mechanisms to isolate the Assad regime, a government which has systematically arrested, tortured, and murdered tens of thousands of Syrian civilians.”


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