WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- With sanctions on Iran hitting the Syrian energy sector, Washington is searching for "every tool" to pressure the Damascus regime, an analyst said.
Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, announced amended sanctions on Iran now extend to Syrian state-run oil company Sytrol. He said gasoline sales by Iran to Syria totaled $36 million in April.
The State Department said gasoline trade allows Iran to generate revenue to fund its controversial nuclear program while giving Syria the resources it needs to continue its crackdown on rebels.
"The administration is looking for every tool and instrument it can to add to the pressure and, from a political point of view, also demonstrate there are still things they can do," Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Wilson Center, told Bloomberg News.
The U.S. and European governments placed an oil embargo on Syria last year in response to the fighting. The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration last week said Syrian oil production should average around 200,000 barrels per day this year and 210,000 bpd by 2013. Last month, the EIA published a Syrian oil production forecast of 240,000 bpd and 340,000 bpd in 2012 and 2013, respectively.