France freezes assets over chemical weapons in Syria

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France has frozen the assets of three people and nine companies for their involvement in the research and/or acquisition of chemical weapons in Syria, French foreign and finance ministers said on Friday.

"France has adopted national freezing measures against three acquisition networks working for the benefit of the Syrian Center for Studies and Research (CERS)," read a joint statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian and Bruno Le Maire.

The center "is the main Syrian laboratory for the development and unconventional production of chemical weapons and ballistic vectors."

It is accused by the U.S. government and other countries of helping to develop chemical weapons for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Three people and nine companies have been targeted for their role in the research and/or acquisition of materials for the development of chemicals and ballistic weapons for this country [Syria]," the statement said without naming the individuals or firms.

The move comes as France will host on Friday a new session of the International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons which was launched in Paris on Jan. 23, 2018.

The partnership, involving 33 states and organizations, does not replace existing international mechanisms. Under it, countries are to share information on the subject and compile lists of people involved in the use of chemical weapons.

The new meeting is set to discuss restoring chemical weapons policing system which would enable the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to attribute responsibility in the event of a chemical attack.

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