Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(FILE - In this July 6, 2012 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius attend the "Friends of Syria" conference in Paris. The United States is readying new sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and its allies as Clinton heads to Turkey on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, for weekend talks with top Turkish officials and Syrian opposition activists. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool) , File)
New U.S. sanctions hit the Assad regime, Hezbollah
Largely symbolic » The West is stopping short of providing lethal assistance to the opposition.
First Published Aug 10 2012 12:35 pm • Last Updated Aug 10 2012 12:47 pm

Washington • The Obama administration set new, largely symbolic, sanctions Friday on Syria’s state-run oil company and the Hezbollah militant group, moves designed to underscore Iran’s key role in propping up the Syrian regime over the span of its civil war.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the penalties against energy firm Sytrol come after it delivered $36 million worth of gasoline to Iran in April. At the same time, Tehran was "actively advising, supplying, and assisting the Syrian security forces and regime-backed militias that are carrying out gross human rights abuses against the Syrian people."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department targeted Hezbollah for "training, advice and extensive logistical support to the government of Syria’s increasingly ruthless efforts to fight against the opposition." It also blamed the Lebanese Shiite militant group for coordinating Iranian assistance to the Syrian government.

Neither action will change Americans’ behavior much. Americans have been banned from doing business with Hezbollah since the U.S. declared it a foreign terrorist organization in the 1990s. Decades of U.S. sanctions against Syria have hampered energy trade between the two countries, and President Barack Obama blacklisted any new imports a year ago.

Sytrol had mostly exported to the European Union, but the bloc also declared an embargo against Syrian oil last year.

"Hezbollah’s extensive support to the Syrian government’s violent suppression of the Syrian people exposes the true nature of this terrorist organization and its destabilizing presence in the region," the Treasury Department’s sanctions chief, David S. Cohen, said.

Asked what the latest U.S. action against Hezbollah might accomplish, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, Daniel Benjamin, said he hoped it would lead other countries to follow suit. "That would limit the amount of space for Hezbollah to operate in," he told reporters in a telephone briefing.

Ventrell said Iran’s support for the Assad regime, including equipment to monitor opposition activity on the Internet, was "completely unjustifiable." He said that Iran fears losing its only remaining ally in the Middle East, Syria.

"Today’s sanctions action sends a stark message: The United States stands resolutely against sales of refined petroleum product to Iran and will employ all available measures to bring it to a halt," he added. "Any business that continues to irresponsibly support Iran’s energy sector or helps facilitate either nation’s efforts to evade U.S. sanctions will face serious consequences."

The announcements came as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was traveling to Turkey for weekend talks with top Turkish officials and Syrian opposition activists. The discussions will focus on forming a "common operational picture" to guide a democratic transition after President Bashar Assad leaves power, U.S. officials said.

story continues below
story continues below

Clinton will also boost humanitarian relief to tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing the country, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. They said the additional aid is expected to be worth $5.5 million. That brings total U.S. humanitarian relief to $82 million since the crisis began in March 2011.

Coordinating support for the Syrian opposition remains a challenge. The officials said Clinton was keen to understand Turkey’s position as conditions inside Syria deteriorate and with rebel forces gaining strength and effectiveness.

The United States and its Western allies are stopping short of providing lethal assistance to the opposition, but it has become an open secret that several Arab countries are supplying weapons and ammunition.

The officials said Clinton would take what she learns in Istanbul from the Turks and the Syrian activists she meets and begin to discuss points of agreement with European foreign ministers in the coming days. A new "Friends of Syria" meeting will be held in late August or early September.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.