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Treasury hits 271 individuals in response to chemical attack in Syria

  • The Treasury Department sanctioned 271 individuals within a Syrian government agency that the department said develops and produces chemical weapons.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. takes "Syria's disregard for innocent human life very seriously."
  • The actions follow an apparent deployment of the nerve agent sarin on April 4, which killed dozens of civilians.

The Treasury Department announced "one of the largest sanctions actions in its history," slapping 271 individuals with punishment in response to an apparent April 4 chemical attack against civilians in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria.

In a Monday statement, the Treasury said it was targeting individuals within a Syrian government agency that the department says is responsible for the development and production of chemical weapons.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a Monday statement, "We take Syria's disregard for innocent human life very seriously, and will relentlessly pursue and shut down the financial networks of all individuals involved with the production of chemical weapons used to commit these atrocities."

U.S. officials have been steadfast in their determination that Bashar Assad's government is responsible for deploying the nerve agent sarin, in violation of an agreement Syria made in 2013 to give up its chemical weapons. Defense Secretary James Mattis said on April 11 that "there is no doubt" that the Syrian government is responsible.

'Barbaric chemical weapons'

"The United States is sending a strong message with this action that we will hold the entire Assad regime accountable for these blatant human rights violations in order to deter the spread of these types of barbaric chemical weapons," Mnuchin said.

Assad has vigorously contested attempts to blame his regime for the chemical attack that left scores of his people dead. In an interview with AFP earlier this month, the Syrian strongman said the attack was "100 percent fabrication," used only to justify a subsequent U.S. airstrike.

On April 7, U.S. forces launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syria-government airfield. President Donald Trump said the targeted airfield had launched the chemical attack on a rebel-held area.