The Chemical Weapon attack in Khan Sheikhoun, a rebel-held town in northern Syria, has forced the United States to take a tough stand on the issue. It has imposed sanctions on several employees of the Syrian government agency that was responsible for developing such weapons. The attack on 4th April killed 80 people, and many of them were children.

Relevant facts about the attack

Sky News reports that in the opinion of the United States, sarin gas was dropped by Syrian aircraft. Turkey carried out post mortems on the victims, and it has been revealed that there was evidence of the use of chemical weapons in the attack.

However, Syria has denied this. There is a Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) of Bashar al-Assad, and it is believed to be a civilian one, but US Treasury officials feel that the focus of SSRC is to develop biological and chemical weapons.

This is not the first time that SSRC has been involved in such issues. In 2005, during the regime of George W. Bush, the administration had blacklisted it and accused it of creating weapons of mass destruction. Subsequently, during the presidency of Barack Obama in July 2016, people and companies were sanctioned for extending support to SSRC and, in January this year, six more officials of the center were sanctioned.

The effects of the sanction

Once implemented, the sanctions would mean putting a financial squeeze on the individuals and companies.

US banks will freeze the assets of the employees, and American companies will be banned from transacting business with them. Treasury officials have revealed that the individual's affected fall in the category of "highly educated" and there was every likelihood that they could travel out of Syria and manipulate the international financial system.

These sanctions are one of the largest in the history of the United States and the intention, as explained by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, is to target the scientific support system of Bashar al-Assad that attacks civilians with chemical weapons. By enforcing the sanctions, a strong message has been sent to Assad by the United States that his regime is accountable for blatant violation of human rights in Syria.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has welcomed the sanctions and feels that it will compel the Syrian regime to desist from the military campaign. He went on to add that the UN and EU must join hands and look for a political solution to the problems in Syria.

The unrest in Syria has led to thousands of deaths, and people are living in untold misery with a shortage of food and medicine. Many of them have fled to neighboring countries and created a major refugee crisis. It is time for the world to rise as one and campaign for peace. Instead of confrontation, it is necessary to discuss and resolve the controversial issues across the table. Syria must not be used as a testing ground for chemical weapons because enough harm has already been done and it is time to evolve a formula for peace.