Washington has slapped sanctions on a number of Lebanese firms for allegedly helping the Syrian regime develop chemical weapons through the procurements of electronic parts and other materials.
The Lebanese companies named Wednesday were part of a broader list issued by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control that included firms in Syria, Russia and Ukraine.
The U.S. and Europe argue that Damascus is buying advanced electronics and spare parts from different countries to develop its chemical weapons program.
Banks and financial institutions are prohibited from making any financial transactions with the companies listed by the U.S. Treasury.
The move, which comes as part of a coordinated action with France, targets the procurement network for Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center, which the U.S. Treasury Department said is the agency responsible for developing chemical weapons.
Among the Lebanese companies added to the sanctions list were Electronics Katrangi Trading, which has operations in Syria, China, Egypt and France and “has provided, or attempted to provide, financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services in support of, the SSRC.”
The sanctions also target Lebanon-based Top Technologies, which specializes in the import and export of electronic components.
Electronic Katrangi Trading, which has offices in Beirut’s Jnah neighborhood and in Damascus, could not immediately be reached for comment.
The business is a retail and wholesale company involved in the sale of electronics, computers, cellular phones, car services, cameras and other advanced gadgets.
Reuters reported that Washington has sanctioned eight people and five entities that helped form key parts of the procurement network for Syria’s chemical weapons program, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
It remains to be seen whether the companies sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury will appeal their cases in international courts in a bid to prove their innocence.
This is not the first time the U.S. Treasury has accused Lebanese companies of involvement in helping the Syrian regime develop chemical weapons. According to the OFAC website, a number of Lebanese individuals are already included in the sanctions list.
Among the new names are Tony Ajaka who is linked to Electronics Katrangi Trading, Anni Beurklian, who holds a U.S. citizenship, Mireille Chahine, an accountant at Electronic Katrangi Group, as well as Amir, Houssam, Maher and Mohammed Katrangi.
Observers expect the U.S. Treasury to include more names of individuals, firms and social institutions who are accused of financing Hezbollah, which is labeled by Washington as a terrorist organization.
In January this year, France announced asset freezes against 25 Syrian companies and executives, as well as French, Lebanese and Chinese businesses accused of aiding the regime’s use of chemical weapons.
The companies targeted included Electronic Katrangi Trading, Nktronics and ABC Shipping in Beirut, along with Electronic System Group in Damascus.
France Sunday renewed an asset freeze on 24 entities and individuals from the same network for providing an array of support to the SSRC, U.S. officials said.
“Syria’s horrific use of chemical weapons, including attacks against innocent women and children, remains deeply embedded in our minds,” Sigal Mandelker, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement. “Today, we are continuing our campaign to stop the Assad regime’s ruthless attacks by targeting the procurement networks that have supported its chemical weapons program.”
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