The US will pursue anyone connected to the use of chemical weapons in Syria and shut down their financial networks, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said commenting on the move, adding that the sanctions are "largest ever". Mnuchin also said Washington was sending a strong message to the Syrian government and President Bashar Assad over the April 4 reported chemical weapons attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhoun, for which the United States blames Damascus despite lack of proof.
"First and foremost [the goal] is to send a clear signal to make sure that they understand that we don’t take their actions lightly and that we want to do everything we can to have stability in the region," Spicer stated.
On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces claimed that 80 people were killed and 200 injured in a suspected chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, blaming the Syrian government. Damascus vehemently rejected the accusations and said militants and their allies were responsible.
Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry reminded the Trump administration that all chemical weapons had been taken out of Syria in mid-2014 with the help of the previous administration of ex-president Barack Obama.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with Sputnik that Western states are blocking attempts to investigate the Idlib chemical incident because in the event of a probe it will be established that the "attack" was a false flag and lie.
The OPCW announced in January 2016 that Syria’s weapons arsenal had been destroyed in accordance with an agreement reached after the 2013 Ghouta attack.