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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

France imposes new sanctions over Syrian chemical weapons

Move announced as new multinational body for countering chemical weapons meets 

A Syrian soldier films the damaged Syrian Scientific Research Centre in Barzeh, near Damascus, on April 14, 2018 after US, British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar Al Assad for a suspected chemical attack against civilians. Hassan Ammar / AP Photo
A Syrian soldier films the damaged Syrian Scientific Research Centre in Barzeh, near Damascus, on April 14, 2018 after US, British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar Al Assad for a suspected chemical attack against civilians. Hassan Ammar / AP Photo

France on Friday imposed new sanctions on people and companies suspected of helping Syria's chemical weapons programme.

The finance and foreign ministries announced a freeze on assets of three individuals and nine companies involved in research or purchasing for the Syrian Scientific Research Centre, the Syrian laboratory accused of producing chemical weapons for President Bashar Al Assad's government.

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

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The sanctions were announced as France hosted leading diplomats from 32 countries for a meeting of a new body aimed at better identifying and punishing those who use chemical weapons.

France, the United States and Britain bombed Syrian government sites last month in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack.

Mr Al Assad's forces have denied accusations they repeatedly used chemical weapons in Syria's seven-year-old civil war. Rebels also have been accused of using poison gas.

In the latest report of poison gas being unleashed, the international chemical weapons watchdog said on Wednesday that chlorine was probably used as a weapon in the rebel-held northern Syrian town of Saraqeb in early February. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons released details of a report into the chlorine use, but did not say which side in the fighting used it. The OPCW is not mandated to apportion blame for the attack.

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

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