EU plans to sanction 16 Syrian scientists over alleged role in chemical attacks
The announcement comes amid a report by The Wall Street Journal saying that the EU member states’ foreign ministers are expected to adopt sanctions against Syrian scientists.
The newspaper, citing UK officials, reported that the sanctions would target 16 scientists of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center accused by Washington of producing the chemical and ballistic weapons. The list including their names is expected to be published by Brussels on Monday.
“What the council will be agreeing today is that 16 named individuals will be sanctioned, their movements will be restricted, their assets will be frozen,” Johnson said on arrival to the Foreign Affairs Council. “I think they are military personnel and technical personnel.”
In April, the White House already sanctioned 271 employees of the center over their alleged involvement in the chemical weapons production in Syria. The restrictive measures included the freeze of the sanctioned individuals’ assets in the US banks as well as the prohibition for the US companies to conduct business operations with those individuals.
On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces reported that dozens of people had been killed by the suspected chemical weapons attack in the country’s Idlib province. The opposition forces backed by the United States blamed the incident on the forces of Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
Damascus has denied any involvement in the incident, saying that the complete elimination of the Syrian government’s stockpile of chemical weapons was confirmedby the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in January 2016.
On April 20, Assad in an interview with Sputnik said that there had been no chemical attack in Idlib and the footage proving it had been falsified. The Syrian leader called the incident a provocation to justify Washington’s attack on the Syrian government’s military airfield on April 6.