The latest EU sanctions imposed against Syria indicate the regime of President Bashar Assad has been working clandestinely with the Islamic State group, the Financial Times reported. Sanctions, published Saturday, were imposed against Syrian-Greek businessman George Haswani, head of Hesco, one of Syria's largest engineering firms, for allegedly brokering secret oil deals between the extremist group and the regime.
Hesco also operates a natural gas plant in Tabqa that is run jointly by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, and the regime, a diplomat familiar with the sanctions told the Times. The relationship provides ISIS with revenue.
“We have also agreed to target individuals supplying oil to the regime, including George Haswani, a middleman buying oil from ISIL [ISIS] on behalf of the regime. This listing gives yet another indication that Assad’s ‘war’ on ISIL is a sham and that he supports them financially,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.
The nearly 4-year-old Syrian civil war has killed an estimated 200,000 civilians with no end to the bloodshed in sight.
Since the Syrian conflict began, 218 people and 69 entities have been the subject of sanctions, the Wall Street Journal reported, including state and private companies. The latest round of sanctions were issued against 13 individuals and organizations, but the EU declined to identify any of them or detail the sanctions, the Times said.
The Times said Brig. Gen. Ghassan Abbas, who allegedly was responsible for the chemical attack on Ghouta in 2013, and DK Group, a steel and smelting organization suspected of smuggling sterling silver and euros into Syria to prop up the central bank, also were targets of the sanctions. Another target was Hamsho Trading and its head Emad Hamsho for allegedly paying militias to strip metals from towns hit by bombing raids and then selling those metals to Syria Steel to be melted down for armaments for the regime.