US Sanctions Syria's Assad
Move raises speculation US wants him out
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2011 1:27 PM CDT
In this March 30, 2011 file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, addresses the Parliament, in Damascus, Syria.   (AP Photo/SANA, File)
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(Newser) – The US has taken the dramatic step of personally sanctioning Syria’s president and a number of his top aides, in an attempt to pressure him to stop his ongoing violent crackdown on dissent. The Treasury Department will freeze all of Bashar al-Assad’s assets that are within US jurisdiction, and bar American individuals and corporations from doing business with him.

European governments have agreed to more sanctions as well, but say they’ll decide next week whether to target Assad himself. The move represents the Obama administration’s strongest rebuke yet of Assad, and will raise speculation that it will ultimately try to push him out of office, Reuters reports. One US official said the sanctions would "send an unequivocal message to President Assad ... and regime insiders that they will be held accountable."