On Wednesday, the Syrian-British Council criticized Britain’s announcement that it would lift sanctions on Tarif al-Akhras, a businessman close to Bashar al-Assad. Akhras is also a close relative of Asma al-Assad, Syria’s first lady.
Mazen Gharibah, executive director of the Syrian British Council, said in an exclusive statement to the Nedaa Post: “The decision to lift the sanctions on Tarif al-Akhras is a hasty decision by the British government. It does not accord with policies aimed at punishing all individuals involved in criminal acts in support of the Assad regime.”
“Over the past few months, the Council has been able to open effective channels of communication with the British Parliament about accountability mechanisms for war criminals and those who violate human rights in Syria,” he said.
“The importance of prosecuting war criminals in Syria was rooted in the statement of MP Kevin Foster (of the governing Conservative Party) on July 16th. In the statement, Foster stressed that the British government, as well as its security and judicial branches, will prosecute all those involved in helping the Syrian regime to commit widespread [human rights] violations against the Syrian people,” Gharibah said.
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The Executive Director of the Syrian British Council confirmed that work will continue in the upcoming period to return Tarif al-Akhras to the list of British sanctions. The Council will work with a number of MPs from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Last week, the British Treasury announced that it had removed Akhras’ name from the British sanctions list and the associated freeze of Akhras’ assets, even though he stands accused of financing the Syrian regime.
The Foreign Office said: “This decision follows a standard review of UK sanctions imposed under the European Community for Regional Cooperation rules, which were adopted in 2019.”
On Tuesday, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported: “This is the first time that the British government has removed the name of a person from the sanctions list imposed under the new rules, which were adopted after Brexit, to impose sanctions against individuals associated with the regime. These rules include the identification of a prominent person who manages or controls businesses in Syria.”
“Family relations exist between the founder of the al-Akhras group and Asma (al-Akhras) al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad’s wife.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.