- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Obama administration sanctioned 18 Syrian government officials Thursday over chemical-weapons attacks in that country’s civil war in 2014 and 2015.

It’s the first time the U.S. is sanctioning specific officials under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in connection with Damascus’s violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a U.N. Security Council resolution.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons,” said White House national security council spokesman Ned Price. “The Asad regime’s barbaric continued attacks demonstrate its willingness to defy basic standards of human decency, its international obligations, and longstanding global norms.”

The action, taken barely a week before Mr. Obama leaves office, comes long after he backed away from enforcing a “red line” against Syria’s use of chemical weapons. After a sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,000 Syrians in 2013, the administration worked with Russia to remove and destroy Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons.

But a U.N. investigation confirmed that Syria government forces used chlorine barrel bombs on civilians in three separate attacks in Syria in 2014 and 2015.

The Treasury Department said it is freezing any U.S. assets of 18 individuals, including Syrian Air Force Intelligence Col. Suhayl Hasan al-Hasan, a commander of fighters in Aleppo tied to barrel bombings in multiple locations in Syria, including one by helicopter; and SAFI Col. Muhammad Nafi Bilal, who was involved in the transport of chemical munitions.


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