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US sanctions Russia bank for Syria ties

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US sanctions Russia bank for Syria ties

In a move to increase its pressure on the Syrian government, the United States has imposed sanctions on several Syrian officials and a Russian bank for their alleged support of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The US Treasury Department announced on Thursday that it has imposed sanctions against six Syrian officials and a Moscow-based bank, Tempbank. The recent sanctions also target Tempbank’s senior executive, Mikhail Gagloev.

The US Treasury Department has claimed that Tempbank has provided millions of dollars and helped facilitate financial services to the Syrian government.

“In addition to its close cooperation with the Central Bank of Syria, Tempbank has facilitated deals and provided financial services to SYTROL, a Syrian state oil company sanctioned by the United States and the European Union,” said the department in a statement.

US Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen has described the recent move as part of “Treasury’s ongoing efforts to apply economic pressure on the Syrian government by choking off access to the international financial system.”

The new round of US sanctions comes after the Syrian government clinched a major victory against insurgents following the liberation of Homs.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has pledged $27 million in new aid to the foreign-backed Syria opposition amid reports that show Washington may be secretly giving US-made heavy weapons to militant groups fighting against the Syrian government.

A video clip posted on YouTube early in April showed US-made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank rocket systems in the hands of a militant group in Syria.

The Daily Beast reported last month that the US could have directly provided the weapons or they could have reached Syria indirectly from Saudi Arabia, a US ally that heavily supports and funds anti-Assad forces.

The NPR has also reported that the CIA is ramping up military and training assistance to what Washington calls “moderate” militant factions in Syria. 50 TOW missile systems have already been shipped in as a part of a “test” or pilot program, the report said.

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