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As the US rolls out new sanctions on Assad, Syria braces for economic devastation

June 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The United States has rolled out fresh sanctions that aim to drive Syrian President Bashar al-Assad back to a UN-led negotiating table and threaten to devastate Syria's already floundering economy.

Beirut, Lebanon (CNN)The United States has rolled out fresh sanctions that aim to drive Syrian President Bashar al-Assad back to a UN-led negotiating table and threaten to devastate Syria's already floundering economy.

On Wednesday the US State Department and Treasury Department released 39 targets for sanctions, including Assad and his wife Asma al-Assad, marking "the beginning of what will be a sustained campaign of economic and political pressure to deny the Assad regime revenue and support it uses to wage war and commit mass atrocities against the Syrian people," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

"We anticipate many more sanctions and we will not stop until Assad and his regime stop their needless, brutal war against the Syrian people and the Syrian government agrees to a political solution to the conflict as called for by UNSCR 2254," he said, referring to a UN Security Council Resolution calling for a ceasefire and political settlement in Syria.

Syria's currency collapsed rapidly in recent months on the heels of an economic crisis in neighboring Lebanon, where many Syrian businessmen circumvented international sanctions during the war.

Because the Caesar Act includes secondary sanctions -- punishing non-US people and entities for transactions with regime-held Syria -- they will likely create "phobia" and "panic from banks" around dealing with Syria, said Shaar, choking off financial transactions to the country.

On Tuesday night, the leader of the Iran-backed militant and political group Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, delivered a fiery televized address vowing to prop up Syria economically and calling on Lebanon to spurn US pressure to abide by the Caesar Act.

Nasrallah also accused the Trump administration of "laying siege" to Lebanon's economy in an effort to pressure Hezbollah, and suggested that the country could move deeper into the economic orbit of Iran, Syria and China, doing away with US influence.

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