The Trump administration on Monday announced sanctions against 271 employees of the Syrian government agency it said responsible for developing chemical weapons similar to those used in an attack that killed dozens of Syrian civilians earlier this month.
In a statement, the Treasury Department said it sanctioned 271 employees of President Bashar al-Assad’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), who administration officials say have “expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of [the center’s] chemical weapons program since at least 2012.”
The sanctions come three weeks after President Donald Trump ordered the military to launch airstrikes against a Syrian airfield.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the move aims to punish those behind the chemical weapons attack carried out by Assad’s regime, and to deter others from doing the same.
The Daily Caller reports:
“The United States is sending a strong message with this action — that we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons by any actor,” Mnuchin said. “Today’s action, less than three weeks after the attack, is one of the largest ever executed by OFAC. I can assure you when the U.S. puts out sanctions they have impact both here and throughout the world.”
Officials said they had focused on Syrian officials who are able to travel extensively and possibly to use the U.S. financial system.
Mnuchin said, “We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think it was impactful.” “It’s quite impactful,” he added.