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Canada sets new sanctions against Syria after chemical attack

© POOL/AFP/File | Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said additional sanctions against key Syrian officials "sends a strong, unified message to the Assad regime that their war crimes will not be tolerated"

OTTAWA (AFP) - 

Canada announced new sanctions against Syria on Friday targeting officials and entities linked to the use of chemical weapons.

The measure follows an initial round of sanctions announced last week, Canada's first against Syria and its president, Bashar al-Assad, since 2014, when a conservative government was in office in Ottawa.

The United States -- which fired 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield on April 7 after Syria allegedly used chemical weapons against a civilian neighborhood -- has also sanctioned some Syrian entities and individuals.

The latest Canadian sanctions "affect 17 high-ranking individuals in the Assad regime and five entities linked to the use of chemical weapons in Syria," the Foreign Ministry said.

It said the new measures were meant to help pressure Syria to "immediately stop the repeated and heinous attacks against its own people."

On Wednesday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that "incontrovertible" test results had shown sarin gas or a similar substance was used in an April 4 attack that killed 87 people in Khan Sheikhun.

The sanctions target five research centers and chemicals manufacturers, as well as 17 people, the ministry said.

"Today's announcement of additional sanctions against key officials in the Syrian regime sends a strong, unified message to the Assad regime that their war crimes will not be tolerated and that they will be held accountable," Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.

She said Canada was helping with an international investigation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The Canadian government has allocated Can$1.6 billion ($1.2 billion) over three years to finance security, stabilization, humanitarian and development assistance in Syria and Iraq.

Canada has also welcomed more than 40,000 Syrian refugees since November 2015.

© 2017 AFP