US sanctions 271 Syria state workers after chem attack

Khan Sheikun is a reminder of why international community must deter chemical weapon use, British foreign secretary says

US sanctions 271 Syria state workers after chem attack

World Bulletin / News Desk

 The U.S. on Monday sanctioned 271 employees of Syria's state-run Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) following a deadly chemical attack in the north of the country. 

The April 4 sarin attack killed around 100 civilians and injured some 500 other victims in the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at the White House that the center is responsible for "developing and producing non-conventional weapons and means to deliver them".

The employees were designated "because they have expertise in chemistry and related fields, or have worked in support of chemical weapons programs since at least 2012", he said.

The move more than doubles the number of Syrians who have been blacklisted since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, and is one of the largest such actions carried out by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to date. 

"These sweeping sanctions are intended to hold the Assad regime and those who support it, directly or indirectly, accountable for their blatant violations of the chemical weapons convention and UN Security Council Resolution 2118," Mnuchin said. 

The SSRC was designated by former President George W. Bush's administration in 2005 for allegedly being involved in Syria's development of weapons of mass destruction. 

Any assets held by the center's sanctioned employees in the U.S. have been frozen, and American nationals and institutions are now barred from doing business with them.

The action is the latest response to the chemical attack from the Trump administration. Prior to announcing the financial penalties, the U.S. carried out a missile attack on the air base it believes was used to carry out the deadly attack. 

Later on Monday, a statement by the U.K. government welcomed the sanctions decision. 

"The UK welcomes US action to sanction individuals connected to the use of chemical weapons in Syria," Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.

“The abhorrent attack on Khan Sheikhoun is a stark reminder that the international community must work together to deter the future use of chemical weapons in any circumstances,” he said.

Secretary Johnson further pledged to work towards ensuring accountability for the perpetrators of the attack.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Nisan 2017, 08:35