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US Slaps Syria with New Sanctions Following Chemical Attack

The sanctions target 271 employees of a Syrian research facility that the US believes develops chemical weapons.
Assad photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom / ABr and screenshot via White House press briefing

On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced that the US would be placing sanctions on 271 people believed to be associated with the recent chemical attack in Syria, USA Today reports.

On April 4, at least 80 civilians were killed in the town of Khan Shaykhun in what the US believes was a sarin gas attack ordered by Syrian president Bashar al Assad. The new sanctions reportedly target the assets of 271 employees who work at Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center, a facility that the US believes develops chemical weapons for the Assad regime. The sanctions also prohibit the employees from doing business with the US.

"We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons by any actor and we plan to hold the Assad regime accountable for their unacceptable behavior," Mnuchin said Monday. "These sweeping sanctions target the scientific support center for Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad's horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent civilian men, women, and children."

Since the attack earlier this month, Assad has denied having any involvement and said it was "100 percent fabrication" created by the West. The US, however, has said it's "confident" that Assad was behind the attack and, furthermore, likely colluded with Russia to spread "false narratives" about it.

Although White House officials told the Associated Press that the sanctions are just part of the Trump administration's larger effort aimed at cutting support to the Assad regime, the US did not announce any new sanctions on Russia, one of Syria's biggest allies.