New French sanctions against alleged Syrian weapons manufacturers



PARIS – The French government is imposing new sanctions on people and companies suspected of helping Syria's chemical weapons program.

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Friday a freeze on the assets of three individuals and nine companies involved in the research or purchase of the Syrian Scientific Research Center. The Syrian laboratory is accused of producing chemical weapons for the government of President Bashar Assad.

France says companies from several countries have been supplying materials for the manufacture of chemical weapons, including sarin gas.

France welcomes distinguished diplomats on Friday from 32 countries for a meeting of a new body to better identify and punish those who use chemical weapons.

France, the United States and Great Britain bombed sites of the Syrian government last month in response to an alleged attack with chemical weapons.

Assad's forces have denied accusations that they used chemical weapons repeatedly in the 7-year civil war in Syria. The rebels have also been accused of using poison gas.

In the latest poisonous gas report to be unleashed, the international chemical weapons control body said on Wednesday that chlorine was probably used as a weapon in the Syrian town of Saraqeb, north of Syria in February. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons released details of a report on the use of chlorine, but did not say which side of the fight used it. The OPCW does not have an obligation to share the blame for the attack.

The group's meeting in Paris on Friday plans to publish information about chemical attacks to name and shame the perpetrators and finally sanction them.

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