In this citizen journalism image provide by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, a damaged house from the Syrian government forces shelling, at Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs province, Syria, on Wednesday Feb. 8, 2012. The European Union will impose harsher sanctions on Syria, a senior EU official said Wednesday, as Russia tried to broker talks between the vice president and the opposition to calm violence. Activists reported at least 50 killed in military assaults targeting government opponents. (AP Photo/Local Coordination Committees in Syria) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS HANDOUT PHOTO
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department is levying sanctions on a key Syrian bank as it seeks to ratchet up economic pressure on President Bashar Assad's regime.
Treasury says the Syria International Islamic Bank has been acting as a front for other Syrian financial institutions seeking to circumvent sanctions. The new penalties will prohibit the SIIB from engaging in financial transactions in the U.S. and will freeze any assets under U.S. jurisdiction.
The tightened sanctions come as the U.S. grapples for ways to quell deadly violence in Syria and spur a political transition.
Treasury says it will also host a meeting in Washington next week of the Friends of Syria working group on sanctions. The meeting, co-chaired by the U.S., Turkey and Qatar, will focus on ways to strengthen sanctions against Assad's regime.
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