U.S. sanctions meant to deny Assad money for violence: Victoria Nuland
U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday that the U.S. sanctions on the Syrian government are designed to deny Syrian President Bashar al-Assad money to commit violence against the protesters, Xinhua reported.
Nuland made the remarks at a regular briefing shortly after the U.S. on Wednesday imposed additional sanctions on Syria by targeting its largest commercial bank and a largest mobile phone operator.
"This is very much the focus of the diplomacy that we're engaged with the Europeans, with Syria's neighbors, to encourage as we said yesterday as many countries as possible to take national action, to tighten the noose, to ensure that we do as much as possible to increase the pressure on Assad," she said.
She said the U.S., Turkey and "an increasing chorus of countries" have made clear to Assad "that the violence has got to stop, that the tanks have to go back to barracks, and that we have to start a real democratic transition."
In the latest round of sanctions, the U.S. Department of Treasury targeted the state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria, its Lebanon-based subsidiary, Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank and Syriatel, the largest mobile phone operator in the Arab nation.
U.S. persons are now prohibited from engaging in commercial or financial transactions with the Syrian entities, and their assets under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen.
In the past days, a number of Arab countries and Turkey have toughened their stance on Syria. On Sunday, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued a statement, calling for an immediate end to the violence and for a prompt implementation of reforms in Syria. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu arrived in Damascus on Tuesday to demand an end to Syria's military crackdown against anti-government protesters.