State Dept team investigating alleged atrocities against Rohingya as US weighs new sanctions

State Department teams are interviewing Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

The inquiry is the latest sign the U.S. is considering doing more, including possible new sanctions, to punish Myanmar after more than 700,000 Rohingya have been driven from their homes and into neighboring Bangladesh in what the U.S. has called "ethnic cleansing."

So far, a State Department-led team of 20 U.S. officials has interviewed over 1,000 Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh in March and April. They are seeking to confirm basic facts, such as whether a person is actually a refugee, when they left Myanmar, and what caused them to leave.

Access to Rakhine state has been extremely limited for U.S. officials and others. Interviewing those forced to flee is one of their only alternatives while even an independent international investigation has been blocked by Myanmar.

The State Department spokesperson declined to "get ahead of the deliberative, policy-making process," adding in a statement to ABC News, "We consider a wide range of tools to achieve our policy goals."

But the Trump administration is considering more Global Magnitsky sanctions against Burmese military officials, according to two congressional sources.

It's unclear when those could come, but the U.S. is concerned about pushing too hard on Myanmar, whose power-sharing government is split between the military and civilians. The country had been ruled by a military junta since 1988, but after international pressure and isolation, the military allowed some reforms and a gradual opening up of the country, with the first credible elections in 2016.

That balance of power is still delicate, however, and U.S. officials are concerned about alienating their civilian allies or prompting the military to seize back control.

That designation was followed by sanctions against one top Myanmar general under the Global Magnitsky Act, which gives the White House broad authority to go after human rights abusers. Maung Maung Soe had overseen the brutal crackdown against the Rohingya, but by the time he was sanctioned, he'd been moved to a new role. No one else has been sanctioned since then.

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