The Treasury Department on Wednesday announced sanctions against a Syrian construction executive it said was helping Bashar al-Assad buy oil from the Islamic State, as well as against a Russian businessman who leads the World Chess Federation and who is accused of having financial dealings with the Assad regime.
Although Assad professes to be at war with ISIS, he has a symbiotic relationship with it that has allowed it to thrive while he has clung to power.
“The Syrian government is responsible for widespread brutality and violence against its own people,” said Adam J. Szubin, the top Treasury official for terrorism and financial intelligence. “The United States will continue targeting the finances of all those enabling Assad to continue inflicting violence on the Syrian people.”
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which imposes and enforces sanctions, said that George Haswani, a dual Syrian and Russian citizen who owns Hesco Engineering and Construction, was acting as a middleman for oil purchases by the Syrian government from the Islamic State.
The actions on Wednesday freeze the American assets of Mr. Haswani and Hesco, and they bar Americans from doing business with them, as well as with three other individuals and five other companies. The European Union imposed sanctions on Mr. Haswani in March.
The Russian who leads the chess federation, Kirsan N. Ilyumzhinov, is accused of “materially assisting” the Assad regime and top banking officials there.
The Treasury Department said Mr. Ilyumzhinov had ties to Mudalal Khuri, who the Treasury said assisted or acted on behalf of the Assad regime, its central bank, and central bank officials, and represents the Assad regime’s interests in Russia.
The Treasury designations shed further light on the ties between Assad and the Islamic State, and reflect an intensification of American efforts to attack the group’s sources of financing both militarily and economically.
Officials believe that Assad is buying oil from the Islamic State and redistributing it at discounted rates to build goodwill in areas of Syria that he controls. (Source: Agencies)