US sanctions four Syrians over Lebanon
The United States slapped sanctions on four individuals, including a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, for aiding efforts by Damascus "to undermine Lebanese democracy," the U.S. Treasury said Monday.
"Syria has used all means at its disposal -- from bribery to intimidation to violence -- to undermine the legitimate political process in Lebanon," said U.S.
Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey.
"Today's action exposes four individuals involved in such activities and serves as a warning to others who would do likewise."
U.S. authorities cited Hafiz Makhluf, a senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, who is a cousin of the Syrian president.
Mohammed Nasif Khayrbik, said to be "one of several key advisors" to the Syrian leader, was named for having "played a central role in Syria's continuing policy of destabilizing Lebanon."
Also named by the Treasury was Assaad Halim Hardan, a member of the Lebanese Parliament of the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, and Wiyam Wahhab, a former member of parliament from the same party.
U.S. officials said Hardan "works with senior Syrian officials to significantly influence Lebanese politics in furtherance of Syria's efforts to undermine Lebanese sovereignty."
The designations freeze any assets of the four that may be in the United States, and prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with them, officials said.