Today, the United States is designating a senior Assad regime official who is responsible for the violence and the disastrous humanitarian crisis in northern Syria. The Department of State is imposing sanctions under Executive Order 13894 on Minister of Defense Lieutenant General Ali Abdullah Ayoub for his deliberate actions since December 2019 to prevent a ceasefire from taking hold in northern Syria. This obstruction resulted in almost a million people being displaced and in dire need of humanitarian aid in the midst of a cold winter in Idlib. The Assad regime’s forces, backed by Russia, have been responsible for the continued bombardments that destroyed schools and hospitals and killed civilians, including medical professionals and first responders risking their lives to save others.
Executive Order 13894 targets those responsible for or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged in, or attempted to engage in, or financed, the obstruction, disruption, or prevention of a ceasefire in northern Syria.
As a result of today’s sanction, all property and interests in property of Ayoub that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Minister Ayoub is now barred from the U.S. financial system and listed on the Specially Designated National and Blocked Persons list (the SDN list). In the future, any non-U.S. persons that engage in certain transactions with the designated person may themselves be exposed to sanctions under other Syria related authorities to include the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. Our sanctions will remain in place until the Syrian regime and Russia permanently and verifiably adhere to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2254.
We stand on the side of the Syrian people. While the Assad regime and its Iranian and Russian enablers continue their illusory quest for a military solution in Syria, we are committed to a peaceful political solution in line with UNSCR 2254. We call on all parties to cease their destabilizing activities, agree to a nationwide ceasefire, and constructively participate in the political process. If they do not, the alternative is clear: they will face increasing economic pressure and diplomatic isolation.
As we enter the tenth year of the Syrian conflict, the United States will continue to use all diplomatic and economic tools at our disposal to pressure the Assad regime and its backers, including Russia. We will keep pressing until they come to the negotiating table and participate constructively in accordance with UNSCR 2254 in order to alleviate the suffering of Syrian people and meet their future aspirations.