The United States hit Syria’s Defense Minister and two other senior military figures with sanctions Friday, ramping pressure on Bashar al-Assad’s regime as U.N. efforts failed to halt violence.
The Treasury Department announced measures against Daoud Rajiha as well as the Army’s Deputy Chief-of-Staff and the Head of Presidential Security.
Diplomats believe that such personal sanctions could be instrumental in cleaving support away from Assad, as members of his inner circle contemplate foreign bank accounts being frozen and assets being seized.
The sanctions come amid an effort by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan to broker a ceasefire, which has so far been unsuccessful.
The Treasury Department said Rajiha was appointed in August, 2011, in the midst of the crackdown, chosen for “his loyalty to the Assad regime.”
Deputy Chief-of-Staff Munir Adanov was also named; he has accompanied Assad on several foreign visits and is already on a European Union sanctions list.
Zuhayr Shalish, the Head of Presidential Security, is Assad’s personal bodyguard and a relative.