On Monday, the Trump administration announced new sanctions on Syria aimed at the country’s oil industry. The new measures target Syrian government officials and companies based in Syria and Lebanon.
The sanctions are the fifth round since the Caesar Act came into effect in July, which allows the US to take action on any persons, regardless of nationality, that is doing business with the Syrian government. Syria has been struggling to rebuild from a brutal nine-year war, and the Caesar Act was made to target energy and construction sectors to impede reconstruction.
“Today’s action complements the international effort to compel the Assad regime to cease the war it is waging against its own people and reinforces the US government’s continued effort to achieve a peaceful, political resolution of the Syrian conflict,” the Treasury Department said.
On top of the sanctions, the US maintains a small occupation force of about 600 soldiers in northeast Syria to control the country’s oil fields. The US backs the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces in the region, who recently inked an oil deal with a US company.
US policy towards Syria is not expected to change once Joe Biden comes into office. According to a report from Asharq Al-Awsat, a senior Biden advisor met with a group of Syrians to discuss Biden’s policy towards Damascus. The advisor said Biden would maintain a US military presence in northeast Syria to counter Russia and keep reconstruction funds from the country unless “meaningful” political reform occurs.