- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Obama administration imposed financial sanctions on Syrian and Iranian domestic security forces in response to the killing of peaceful anti-government protesters in Syria.

The Treasury Department placed sanctions on the Syria Political Security Directorate, as well as the Iranian Law Enforcement Forces because of their participation in the government-sponsored killings that have occurred since March during protests of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

“Today’s action builds on the administration’s efforts to pressure Assad and his regime to end the use of wanton violence and begin transitioning to a system that ensures the universal rights of the Syrian people,” said David Cohen, acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in the Treasury Department.

The sanctions also targeted Maj. Gen. Jamil Hassan, director of Syrian air force Intelligence, as well as Ismail Moghadam and Ahmad-Reza Radan, commanders of the Iranian forces.

The Syrian Political Security Directorate, one of four security agencies in the country, was specifically targeted because ofkillings carried out by its agents in April, when peaceful protesters called for the release of two citizens held by the directorate.

“Fifteen Political Security Directorate agents opened fire on the crowd, killing at least four and wounding eight,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

The new sanctions mark the third set issued by the Treasury Department since violence broke out in the country in March. The first, in April, targeted the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, as well as the Quds Force, the international branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

The second sanctions, in May, specifically targeted political leaders in Syria, including Mr. Assad, Prime Minister Adel Safar and the heads of both the Military Intelligence and the Political Security Directorate.

The sanctions freeze any of their assets in the United States and outlaw contacts with U.S. citizens and businesses. The sanctions also deny them visas to travel to the United States.

The State and Treasury departments previously imposed the same sanctions on Mr. Moghadam and the Iranian security force June 9 because of their involvement in the attacks on Iranians protesting the challenged 2009 presidential election.

They were targeted in the most recent sanctions because of their support of the Syrian government’s actions against protesters.

The Treasury Department announcement came after Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, visited Syria and reportedly said that Mr. Assad is “highly loved” by his citizens. Mr. Kucinich insisted he was misquoted.