U.S. Blacklists 271 Persons Linked to Syria’s Chemical Weapons Program

As a result of the indiscriminate chemical attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhoun (Idlib province in Northern Syria) 04 April 2017, the U.S. has blacklisted 271 Syrian individuals.  The U.S., and other Western countries, holds the Assad Government responsible for the latest round of chemical attacks in the ongoing conflict in Syria. 

The attack caused the deaths of at least 85  people, including 20 children. According to the World Health Organisation victims of the attack displayed symptoms which are related to the use of a deadly nerve agent – e.g. sarin. This statement is also supported by OPCW’s Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü

Gerelateerde afbeelding

The 20th session of the State Parties’ Conference. | Courtesy of the OPCW

Mr. Üzümcü stressed that although the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission is ongoing, the bio-medical samples analysed by OPCW from victims (either deceased or undergoing medical treatment) indicate that the victims were exposed to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance. 

Director-General Üzümcü stated clearly: “The results of these analyses from four OPCW designated laboratories indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance. While further details of the laboratory analyses will follow, the analytical results already obtained are incontrovertible.”

The blacklisting, i.e. designation, of the 271 persons was published on 24 April 2017 and is one of the largest sanctions actions in OFAC’s history. The blacklisting consists designating 271 employees of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC). These 271 SSRC employees have expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of SSRC’s chemical weapons program since at least 2012. The SSRC is the Syrian government’s agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them.  
 
OFAC’s designation more than doubles in a single action the number of individuals and entities sanctioned by the U.S. pursuant to Syria-related Executive Orders (E.O.s).  According to OFAC, these sanctions are intended to hold the Assad Regime and those who support it – directly or indirectly – accountable for the regime’s blatant violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 2118
 
The named individuals are designated for materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, and having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Government of Syria.  As a result of today’s action, any property or interest in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.
 
 

Assad kills at least 85 with chemical weapons: A dictator defies the world_The Economist_08-04-2017_Economist.com

 
The blacklisting also follows the U.S. Department of State’s sanctions announced on 12 January 2017 against 18 senior regime officials and five branches of the Syrian military, along with entities associated with its chemical weapons program, in response to findings by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, that the Syrian regime was responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015. 

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