Syria: UK sanctions Assad allies

The fresh wave of sanctions come as Syria marks 10 years of brutal civil war. The sanctions target those accused of "repressing the Syrian people."

The UK imposed fresh sanctions on six allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad on Monday, including his foreign minister, the UK foreign office said.

“The Assad regime has subjected the Syrian people to a decade of brutality for the temerity of demanding peaceful reform,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

“We are holding six more individuals from the regime to account for their wholesale assault on the very citizens they should be protecting,” Raab added.

A tweet from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office showed a video of the destruction and suffering from the decade of war in Syria. “Syrians have suffered horrific violence and conflict for 10 years. The UK has provided vital aid to those in need from the start,” the tweet said.

“We continue to push for an end to the conflict,” it added.

What do the sanctions include?

The list of newly sanctioned officials included the regime’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, as well as other prominent members of Assad’s inner circle such as Malik Aliaa, commander of the republican guard since January.

The measures against them include travel bans and asset freezes. They are the first sanctions imposed by the UK against Syria following Brexit and add to the 353 sanctions put in place and carried over from the EU.

Westminster also said on Monday that it was attempting to push Damascus to “engage meaningfully” with the UN-led peace talks going on in Geneva.

The foreign ministry called on the Syrian government to release all people being held in arbitrary detention and to make it possible for aid agencies to access people in need throughout the country unhindered.

The conflict in Syria has been raging for 10 years now.

A decade of conflict

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights counts some 594,000 deaths since the beginning of the conflict on March 14, 2011. Of that, 117,388 were civilians and 22,254 were under the age of 18. Millions more have been displaced and injured, the organization reported.

Unrest first broke out in Damascus when protesters gathered to call for an end to four decades of oppressive rule by the Assad family, as part of the Arab Spring.

The regime responded to the protests with increasing violence. Eventually, the opposition formed the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA). Over the course of the ten years, different groups came and went, including the Islamic State. Foreign powers such as Turkey and Russia have troops into the country, while others such as the US have hit certain targets with airstrikes.

The US also maintains a presence in the Kurdish-controlled northern region.

Despite some initial setbacks, the Assad regime, with the support of Russia, Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, managed to take back control of large swathes of the country.

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