The Trump administration has issued sanctions against 271 employees of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), the government agency that develops and produces non-conventional weapons.

This represents one of the largest single set of punishment measures against a nation in the history of the United States. A spokesperson from the Treasury Department and Treasury Security announced the decision in a statement, briefing reporters at the White House on Monday, April 24.

“These 271 SSRC employees have expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of SSRC’s chemical weapons programme since at least 2012,” the Treasury said. “The United States is sending a strong message with this action that we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons by any actor and we intend to hold the Assad regime accountable for its unacceptable behaviour.”

The move is part of the reaction towards the alleged use of chemical weapons, the latest of which happened on 4 April in the village of Khan Sheikhoun, and killed more than 80 people. US military responded by carrying out an attack on a Syrian military airfield with 59 Tomahawk missiles.

The sanctions means those involved are prohibited from business dealings with US companies and any assets they may have in the United States could be frozen. The move could also affect travel to other countries.

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