US Imposes Toughest Sanctions on Syria Yet to Push Assad for Ending War

The Syrian authorities blame Western sanctions for all the widespread hardship among ordinary residents

The United States imposed the toughest sanctions ever by targeting the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad to choke off revenue for his government in a bid of forcing it back to the negotiations led by the United Nations and broker an end to the country's almost decade-long war, on Wednesday.

The new round of penalties on Syria, that designated Assad and his wife Asma personally, got imposed at a time when the Syrian president is struggling with a huge economic crisis following a decade of wear amid the rare outbreak of protests in the government-held areas.

US Imposes Toughest Sanctions on Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visits air base in western Syria

In a statement announcing the designations imposed under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act - signed by President Donald Trump in December - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said 'many more' sanctions should be expected in the coming weeks and months. "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," Pompeo said.

He said the 39 designated individuals and companies have played a key role in obstructing a peaceful political solution to the conflict, and singled out Asma al-Assad. "I will make special note of the designation for the first time of Asma al-Assad, the wife of Bashar al-Assad, who with the support of her husband and members of her Akhras family has become one of Syria's most notorious war profiteers," he said.

Syrian authorities blame Western sanctions for widespread hardship among ordinary residents, where the currency collapse has led to soaring prices and people struggling to afford food and basic supplies.

(With agency inputs)