U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday ordered new sanctions on Syria and Iran and the “digital guns for hire” who help them oppress their people with surveillance software and monitoring technology.

Mr. Obama announced additions to the pile of sanctions already faced by the two governments as part of a wider effort to crack down on human rights abuses, atrocities and genocide, at a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Museum on Monday.

The measures will hit the two governments but also companies that help create systems that track or monitor their people for killing, torture or other abuses and prevent individuals involved from entering the United States.

“I've signed an executive order that authorises new sanctions against the Syrian government and Iran and those that abet them for using technologies to monitor and track and target citizens for violence,” said Mr. Obama.

“These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them. It's one more step that we can take toward the day that we know will come, the end of the Assad regime that has brutalised the Syrian people, and allow the Syrian people to chart their own destiny.”

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