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Syria's Assad, Six Others, Hit With Sanctions By U.S. Treasury

President Obama today signed an executive order "imposing sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and six other senior officials of the government of Syria, the Treasury Department just announced.

It said the move is "an effort to increase pressure on the government of Syria to end its use of violence against its people and begin transitioning to a democratic system that protects the rights of the Syrian people."

"Any property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which [Assad and the others] have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them,' Treasury added.

In a statement, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen said the sanctions "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. 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."

Along with Assad, those targeted with sanctions are:

-- Vice President Farouk al-Shara.

-- Prime Minister Adel Safar.

-- Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar.

-- Defense Minister Ali Habib Mahmoud.

-- Syrian military intelligence chief Abdul Fatah Qudsiya.

-- Political security directorate Director Mohammed Dib Zaitoun.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.