The EU on Monday sanctioned four senior Syrian officials over the use of chemical weapons against civilians, amid reports President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have deployed chlorine gas in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta. EU foreign ministers hit a brigadier-general and three scientists working for the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) with travel bans and asset freezes, taking to 261 the number of regime figures punished by the bloc over the seven-year conflict.
“The EU added these four persons for their role in the development and use of chemical weapons against the civilian population, in line with the EU’s policy to fight the proliferation and use of chemical weapons,” said a statement after ministers agreed the measures in Brussels. “These persons include a high-ranking military official and three scientists working at the Scientific Studies and Research Center.”
Regime forces have been repeatedly accused of using chlorine in recent weeks during their fierce air and ground assault to retake Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, from anti-government rebels. The EU has a broad package of sanctions in place over the Syrian conflict and Brussels has been pressing for a resumption of UN-led talks in Geneva aimed at bringing an end to the war.