On January 12, 2017, the Treasury Department announced that its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is taking action in response to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) – United Nations (UN) Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) findings that the Syrian regime used industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people. OFAC is designating 18 senior regime officials connected to Syria’s weapons of mass destruction program and identifying five Syrian military branches as part of the Government of Syria. In reports issued in August and October 2016, the JIM – established by the UN Security Council to investigate incidents of already-confirmed chemical weapon attacks – found that the Syrian government, specifically the Syrian Arab Air Force, was responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in Talmenes on April 21, 2014, and in Qmenas and Sarmin on March 16, 2015. In response to the reports’ findings, OFAC is for the first time sanctioning Syrian military officials in connection with the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons.
As a result of OFAC’s action, any property or interest in property of the identified persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked. Additionally, transactions by U.S. persons involving these persons are generally prohibited.
- Pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13582 targeting the Government of Syria, Treasury is identifying the Syrian Arab Air Force, Syrian Arab Air Defense Forces, Syrian Arab Army, Syrian Arab Navy, and Syrian Arab Republican Guard as blocked agencies or instrumentalities of the Government of Syria.
- E.O. 13572 Designations: OFAC is designating five individuals for being senior officials of Syrian Air Force Intelligence (SAFI), Syrian Military Intelligence (SMI), or the Syrian Political Security Directorate (PSD).
- E.O. 13573 Designations: OFAC is designating five individuals pursuant to E.O. 13573 for being senior officials of the Government of Syria.
- E.O. 13582 Designation: OFAC is designating Major General Rafiq Shihadah, a former head of SMI who remains in military service, for materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, the Government of Syria, pursuant to E.O. 13582, which targets the Government of Syria.
- OFAC is also designating several officials of the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) pursuant to E.O.13382, which targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters. The SSRC is the Syrian government agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them and was named in the annex to E.O. 13382.
- The U.S. Department of State is also designating today the Organization for Technological Industries (OTI) pursuant to E.O. 13382. As part of today’s action, OFAC is designating Bayan Bitar, the Managing Director of OTI, for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, OTI. OTI is a subsidiary of the Syrian Ministry of Defense that assists in the production of chemical weapons.