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Bush expands Syria sanctions

President Bush expanded sanctions against Syria.

An order issued Thursday evening “expands sanctions to block the property of senior Syrian government officials and their associates who are determined to be responsible for, to have engaged in, or to have benefited from public corruption” and to “block the property of persons determined to be responsible for actions or decisions of the Syrian regime that undermine efforts to stabilize Iraq, or allow Syrian territory to be used for this purpose.”

The order derives from the Syrian Accountability Act, passed in 2003 after heavy lobbying by pro-Israel groups.

An earlier order by Bush in 2004 limited such property freezes to individuals and entities involved in the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. That order also banned travel from Syria to the United States and banned all exports to Syria but food and medicine. According to the Act, Bush may still expand the sanctions to include any business with Syria.

The Bush administration is frustrated at what it sees as Syrian complicity in insurgent attacks in Iraq and in its continued efforts to assert its hegemony over Lebanon and its alliance with the Hezbollah terrorist group. “The Syrian regime continues to pursue other activities that deny the Syrian people the political freedoms and economic prosperity they deserve, and that undercut the peace and stability of the region,” the order said.

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