WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Two cousins of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ihab and Iyad Makhluf, are included in newly-announced sanctions against five Syrian individuals for supporting the government.
Both men are also cousins of Rami Makhluf, who was designated for supporting the Syrian mobile phone company Syriatel, also on the US sanctions list.
"Ihab Makhluf, the Vice Chairman of Syrian mobile phone provider Syriatel…has helped Rami Makhluf evade sanctions by moving his assets overseas… Iyad Makhluf has helped the Government of Syria evade international sanctions," the release stated.
The other sanctioned individuals are Muhammad Abbas, Samir Sakhir Darwish and Muhammed Bin-Muhammed Faris Quwaydar. The release said Abbas, another cousin of Rami Mukhluf, carries out his financial interests through al-Ajnihah, a Damascus-based company used to move Mukhluf’s assets out of Syria. Al-Ajnihah and a second company owned by Abbas, the Lebanon-based Barly Off-Shore, were added to the sanctions list.
Darwish is the director of Al-Bustan Charity, which was also sanctioned. The Treasury Department said Rami Makhluf created a private network of militias through Al-Bustan Charity, which is used to recruit and mobilize fighters in support of the Syrian military.
"Today, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five individuals and five entities in response to continued acts of violence committed by the Government of Syria, led by Bashar al-Assad, against its own citizens," the release stated.
The move comes a day after the US State Department released declassified information on alleged civilian casualties as a result of Damascus' actions. Damascus has already refuted claims in the report. The UN said it cannot confirm data from the US' report.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer commented on the sanctions and said they are related to the US State Department's report.
"[The US Department of the] Treasury has just announced sanctions on additional individuals and entities in response to the continuing violent attacks on Syrian citizens by the Syrian government," Spicer stated.