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US sanctions on Turkey-backed Syria faction offer solace to Kurdish victims

It remains to be seen what practical and immediate effect Wednesday's sanctions will have.
Hevrin Khalaf's mother, Souad Mohammad, is seen with an image of her daughter in this undated photo.
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On Oct. 12, 2019, three days after Turkish forces invaded northeastern Syria with President Donald Trump’s blessings, a rising young Kurdish politician named Hevrin Khalaf was ambushed by Ahrar al-Sharqiyah, a Turkish-backed armed Sunni brigade, and savagely executed. When the militants were done with the 35-year-old, her body was riddled with bullets, the flesh from her scalp ripped off, and her leg and skull fractured from repeated blows. Apparently unworried about retribution, the militants posted a video of the war crime online.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration rolled out its first sanctions directed at Syria. They targeted Ahrar al-Sharqiyah and its boss, Ahmed Ihsan Rayyad al-Hayes, better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Hatem Shaqra, who was present during Khalaf’s murder. The sanctions also targeted eight Syrian prisons, five officials in President Bashar al-Assad’s regime who run them, and a pro-regime militia. Ahrar al-Sharqiyah also was accused by the US Treasury Department of recruiting members of the Islamic State and of killing multiple civilians in northeast Syria. 

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