EU sanctions 16 more Syria officials over chemical weapons use

Heavily damaged buildings in Homs, Syria. [UNICEF]

The European Union imposed sanctions on Monday (17 July) against another 16 high-ranking Syrian military officials and scientists for their role in the development and use of chemical weapons against civilians, the bloc said in a statement.

The move was approved by the Council of foreign ministers and brings the number of Syrians facing a travel ban and an assets freeze to 255, all following President Bashar al-Assad’s violent crackdown on civilians during a five-year civil war.

“The EU added these 16 persons for their role in the development and use of chemical weapons against the civilian population,” the EU statement said.

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It said the persons include eight high-ranking military officials and eight scientists involved in chemical weapons proliferation and delivery. The EU had already imposed sanctions on high ranking Syrian officials, most recently on 4 March, for the use of chemical weapons.

The EU will release the names of those hit by the sanctions on Tuesday, the statement said.

The sanctions against Syria include an oil embargo, restrictions on certain investments, a freeze of the assets of the Syrian central bank held in the EU, and export restrictions on military and surveillance equipment and technology.

The sanctions decision “shows the resolve of the UK and the rest of our friends in Europe in dealing with those who are responsible for chemical weapons attacks”, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told reporters in Brussels before the decision was announced.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in June that its fact-finding mission confirmed the banned nerve agent sarin had been used in northern Syria in April.

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