On August 21, 2013, Syrian government forces fired rockets containing the chemical weapon, Sarin at two rebel-controlled areas of Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, killing hundreds of people and injuring thousands more.
Amid the global outrage that followed, and despite vehement denials of responsibility for the attack, the Syrian regime accepted the Kerry-Lavrov Framework, joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, and relinquished its declared stockpiles of chemical weapons.
Nobody was held accountable for the deaths and terrible injuries of thousands of Syrians in Ghouta. Nor have any persons been held accountable for the chemical weapons attacks that have continued since the Ghouta incidents.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons - United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, had been established by the UN Security Council to investigate incidents of already-confirmed chemical weapon attacks in Syria, and mandated to make attributions for a number of confirmed or likely chemical weapons attacks. In August and October of last year, it issued reports determining that the Syrian regime, specifically the Syrian Arab Armed Forces, used chemicals as weapons again the Syrian people in three separate incidents in 2014 and 2015.
For this reason, the United States government has imposed new sanctions on Syria. On January 12, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset control designated 18 senior officials connected to Syria’s weapons of mass destruction program. The U.S. Department of State also designated the Organization for Technological Industries, or OTI, under Executive Order 13382, a sanctions authority from 2005 aimed at freezing the assets of
OTI, which belongs to the Syrian Ministry of Defense, is involved in furthering Syria’s WMD-capable ballistic missile program and has been producing components for missiles built by the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, the key entity responsible for Syria’s WMD and missile program that was previously designated in 2004.
As a result of this action, all assets of these individuals and companies that are under the jurisdiction of the United States are frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
“The Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against its own people is a heinous act that violates the longstanding global norm against the production and use of chemical weapons,” said Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin. “Today’s action is a critical part of the international community’s effort to hold the Syrian regime accountable for violating the Chemical Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 2118.”