White House Explains Goal of New US 'Largest Ever' Sanctions Against Syria

© AFP 2023 / PAUL J. RICHARDSThe day breaks behind the White House in Washington,DC
The day breaks behind the White House in Washington,DC - Sputnik International
One of the goals of the new sanctions issued by the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) against 271 individuals in Syria is to show President Bashar Assad's government that its actions are not taken lightly by the United States, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a briefing on Monday.

The US Treasury Department - Sputnik International
US Sanctions Employees of Syrian Agency Allegedly Developing Chemical Weapons
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Earlier on Monday, the US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned 271 employees of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center, the agency allegedly responsible for producing chemical weapons.

The US will pursue anyone connected to the use of chemical weapons in Syria and shut down their financial networks, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said commenting on the move, adding that the sanctions are "largest ever". Mnuchin also said Washington was sending a strong message to the Syrian government and President Bashar Assad over the April 4 reported chemical weapons attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhoun, for which the United States blames Damascus despite lack of proof.

"First and foremost [the goal] is to send a clear signal to make sure that they understand that we don’t take their actions lightly and that we want to do everything we can to have stability in the region," Spicer stated.

On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces claimed that 80 people were killed and 200 injured in a suspected chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, blaming the Syrian government. Damascus vehemently rejected the accusations and said militants and their allies were responsible.

A civil defence member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017. - Sputnik International
OPCW Decision Not to Send Chemical Weapons Experts to Syria 'Strange' - Lavrov
Early April 7, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha’irat, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the city of Homs. US President Donald Trump said the attack was a response to the alleged chemical weapon use in Syria's Idlib, which Washington blames on the Syrian government. Russia described the attack as an aggression against a sovereign state.

Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry reminded the Trump administration that all chemical weapons had been taken out of Syria in mid-2014 with the help of the previous administration of ex-president Barack Obama.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with Sputnik that Western states are blocking attempts to investigate the Idlib chemical incident because in the event of a probe it will be established that the "attack" was a false flag and lie.

The OPCW announced in January 2016 that Syria’s weapons arsenal had been destroyed in accordance with an agreement reached after the 2013 Ghouta attack.

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