The United States and France teamed up this week to implement sanctions against individuals and entities aiding the Bashar al-Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced Wednesday that they’ve implemented sanctions against “five entities and eight individuals are key components of a vast network procuring electronics on behalf of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), the agency responsible for the development of Syria’s chemical weapons.” The sanctions join an asset freeze against 24 others renewed by France on Sunday.
“Syria’s horrific use of chemical weapons, including attacks against innocent women and children, remains deeply embedded in our minds,” said Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in a statement. “Today, we are continuing our campaign to stop the Assad regime’s ruthless attacks by targeting the procurement networks that have supported its chemical weapons program.”
The entities and individuals added to OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List will be denied access to property and interests subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and U.S. persons cannot conduct business with them.
Over the last year, OFAC has been in an multi-agency effort to specifically target Electronics Katrangi Trading (EKT), a London-based electronics supplier with operations in Syria, China, and France, the U.S. Treasury reports. EKT is a leading supplier to the SSRC, “including goods used in the production of weapons of mass destruction,” they say. EKT employees are among those targeted by Wednesday’s sanctions.
These sanctions coordinated with France are a part of an ongoing battle against the use of chemical weapons. Last April, the U.S. implemented sanctions against Russia for their assistance in Assad’s chemical weapons program. The U.S., France, and UK also launched strikes against alleged chemical weapons sites in Syria last April, CNN reports, after an attack on civilians sparked international outrage.
“Along with Sunday’s actions by the French, and together with our law enforcement partners, today’s actions reinforce our ongoing international efforts with our allies to halt these atrocities,” said Mandelker. “We remain firm in our resolve to counter Syria’s horrific use of chemical weapons, and will continue to take aggressive action against those who supply the SSRC and enhance Syria’s capacity to produce and use chemical weapons.”