The South China Morning Post reports via the AFP: The businesses include Sigmatec and the Al Mahrous Group, both based in Damascus; Technolab in Lebanon; and a trading company in Guangzhou in China, according to a list published in the government's official gazette.
Two Syrian nationals will also face asset freezes, as well as a person born in Lebanon in 1977 whose nationality was not given.
French finance minister Le Maire and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in public statements linked the businesses to CERS, which they alleged is “the main Syrian laboratory in charge of developing and producing unconventional chemical weapons and ballistic launchers.” Last month's US-led airstrikes on Damascus primarily targeted sites connected with CERS such as the Barzeh research center, which was destroyed by well over a dozen tomahawk missile strikes; however, the OPCW during prior routine inspections connected with the late 2013 US-Russia brokered deal to decommission Syria's sarin stockpiles reported that it found “no evidence” of chemical weapons at the site. Over the past years of war in Syria, France has consistently accused President Bashar al-Assad of both using chemical weapons on civilians and misleading weapons inspectors as to the current status of his program, in spite of both former Secretary of State John Kerry and OPCW inspectors declaring the 2013-2014 decommissioning process a monumental success.
The punitive measures come just as some 30 countries are set to meet in Paris on Friday to discuss erecting international mechanisms aimed at identifying and punishing countries involved in the development and use of internationally banned chemical weapons. Last January France announced that it sanctioned 25 individuals and companies over suspected links to Syria's program, which also included Chinese citizens.
China has become Syria's largest trade partner, snapping up 80 percent of its exports.” As China eyes rebuilding Syria in close economic partnership with Damascus, its companies will likely increasingly be targeted by the West, itself hopeful of sweeping up the economic spoils of a post-Assad Syria.