UK: New sanctions targeting Syrian regime


The UK government has marked the 10th anniversary of the Syrian uprising against Bashar Assad by imposing sanctions on six senior Syrian regime figures including Faisal Mekdad, the new Syrian foreign minister.


The UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, accused the six of a “wholesale assault on the people they should be protecting”.


Protests against Assad began 10 years ago this month as the Arab spring swept large parts of the Middle East, with the first in Damascus on 15 March 2011. 


The UK already has sanctions against 353 Syrian officials or entities, the most extensive by the UK against any single country, but the six announced on Monday represent the first use of the autonomous post-Brexit British sanctions regime in Syria.


The United Kingdom said that in the past decade, it has provided more than 3.2 billion pounds in aid to the Syrian crisis, including countries that have resettled refugees outside Syria. At the last UN Donor Conference in June 2020, the United Kingdom provided 300 million pounds, down from 400 million pounds a year before. 


This figure is expected to be further reduced at the next UN donor conference in Brussels on March 29. Since 2017, British aid to Syria has been steadily declining, but overall, the United Kingdom is still one of Syria’s main donor countries, providing large amounts of funds in 2016 and 2017.

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