At least they appear to have given up the notion that President Assad is some kind of weird “reformer:”
The sanctions will freeze any assets Assad and the six Syrian government officials have in U.S. jurisdiction and make it illegal for Americans to do business with them. The U.S. had imposed similar sanctions on two of Assad’s relatives and another top Syrian official last month but had thus far refrained from going after Assad himself.
“The actions the administration has taken today send an unequivocal message to President Assad, the Syrian leadership and regime insiders that they will be held accountable for the ongoing violence and repression in Syria,” said David S. Cohen, Treasury’s acting under secretary for terrorism, said in a statement.
“President al-Assad and his regime must immediately end the use of violence, answer the calls of the Syrian people for a more representative government and embark upon the path of meaningful democratic reform,” Cohen said.
Treasury officials could give no estimate on how much in Assad’s assets were located in the United States that would be frozen by the new sanctions order.
The U.S. move came as Assad said earlier Wednesday that his security forces had made mistakes during the two-month uprising and blamed poorly trained police at least in part for the crackdown that has killed more than 850 people.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she was increasingly alarmed by developments in Syria and called out Assad and his allies for failing to follow through on earlier pledges of reform.