- Associated Press - Thursday, January 12, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration imposed sanctions Thursday on 18 Syrian government officials, Syria’s military and a tech company in response to the use of chemical weapons by President Bashar Assad’s government.

The State Department slapped sanctions on the Organization for Technological Industries, which it accused of helping Syria’s ballistic missile program. The tech company’s primary mission is importing advanced strategic technologies for surface-to-surface missile and rocket programs in Syria, the department said in a statement.

The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 18 senior Syrian government officials linked to the military and Assad’s use of chemical weapons, and also on five branches of Syria’s military: the Syrian Arab Air Force, Syrian Arab Air Defense Forces, Syrian Arab Army, Syrian Arab Navy and Syrian Arab Republican Guard.

A U.N.-authorized investigation into chemical weapons attacks in Syria concluded that Assad’s forces conducted two chlorine gas attacks. Those occurred after a much deadlier sarin gas attack in the Damascus suburbs in 2013 that the U.S. and Western countries blamed on Assad’s forces.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons,” Ned Price, spokesman for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, said. “The Assad regime’s barbaric continued attacks demonstrate its willingness to defy basic standards of human decency, its international obligations and longstanding global norms.”

The sanctions ban Americans from doing business with any of these individuals or entities and freeze any assets they have in the United States.

The State Department said the sanctions target “the assets of WMD proliferators and their supporters in an effort to curb the spread of WMD and protect the U.S. financial system from being exploited by proliferators.”

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in Syria’s nearly six-year-old civil war.

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