"On 20 March 2017, the Council added 4 high-ranking military officials to the list of those targeted by EU restrictive measures against the Syrian regime. The EU added these 4 persons for their role in the use of chemical weapons against the civilian population, in line with the EU's policy to fight the proliferation and use of chemical weapons," the statement read.
According to the statement, 239 people and 67 entities have been targeted by EU sanctions so far, with their assets frozen. Apart from this, there is a number of sanctions against Syria in place, in particular, investments restrictions, an oil embargo, restrictions on some equipment and technology, which are set to be in place until June 1.
In October 2016, the UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) on the chemical weapons use in Syria said that the Syrian authorities used chemical weapons at least three times throughout 2014-2015, while an earlier report said the Daesh was also responsible for several attacks. Despite lack of conclusive evidence, a number of countries, in particular the United Kingdom, France, and the United States, blamed the Syrian government for the chemical attacks. Syrian President Bashar Assad though denied all accusations, claiming the reports failed to provide conclusive evidence of its culpability and putting blame on the terrorist groups.
In late October-early November 2016, a number of chemical attacks were conducted in Syria's city of Aleppo by militants, killing dozens of Syrian servicemen and civilians. The Syrian government urged the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to conduct the investigation.
In mid-February, the Human Rights Watch group said in the report that the Syrian government forces conducted coordinated chemical attacks in opposition-controlled parts of Aleppo during the final month of the battle for the city, adding that between November 17, 2016 and December 13 there were at least eight chemical attacks. The data was obtained from in-person interviews with witnesses and comprised video footage and photograph, meaning the received data could not have been considered absolutely credible.