New French sanctions target suspected Syrian arms makers

PARIS (AP) — France's government is imposing new sanctions on people and companies suspected of helping Syria's chemical weapons program.

The Finance Ministry and Foreign Ministry announced Friday a freeze on assets of three individuals and nine companies involved in research or purchasing for the Syrian Scientific Research Center. The Syrian lab is accused of producing chemical weapons for President Bashar Assad's government.

France says companies from multiple countries have been furnishing materials for the manufacture of chemical weapons, including sarin gas.

France is hosting leading diplomats Friday for a meeting of a new body aimed at better identifying and punishing those who use chemical weapons.

The international chemical weapons watchdog said this week that chlorine was likely used in the rebel-held northern Syrian town of Saraqeb in February, the latest report of poison gas used in Syria's civil war.