The US on Tuesday imposed new sanctions on Syria for the first time since the country was brought back into the Arab League as part of a normalization push between Damascus and regional governments.
According to the Treasury Department, the US sanctioned two Syrian money service businesses that are accused of helping the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad maintain access to the global financial system. The companies are also accused of aiding Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The businesses were targeted using the Caesar Act, a law the US has used to impose sanctions on Syria that are specifically designed to prevent the country’s reconstruction. The House voted overwhelmingly to maintain Caesar Act sanctions on Syria following a devastating earthquake that killed thousands of Syrians in February.
Hawks in Congress are infuriated by Syria’s readmission into the Arab League, which was spearheaded by Saudi Arabia despite US opposition. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House introduced a piece of legislation that aims to combat Syria’s normalization in the region by expanding sanctions.
Because they are designed to prevent Syria’s reconstruction, US sanctions on the country have had a devastating impact on the civilian population. On top of the economic campaign against the country, the US continues to occupy eastern Syria and controls most of its oil resources.