US lists French ‘chemical arms expert’ as IS terrorist

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WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on a Frenchman it accuses of helping the Islamic State group deploy chemical weapons on the Syrian battlefield.

A statement from the State Department identified the suspect as Joe Asperman and said he had been listed as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.”

“French national Joe Asperman is a senior chemical weapons expert for ISIS,” the statement said.

“Asperman oversaw chemical operations production within Syria for ISIS and the deployment of these chemical weapons at the battlefront.”

Although hundreds of French fighters are thought to have travelled to the Middle East to fight with jihadist groups like the Islamic State, Asperman’s name has not previously been reported.

The US Treasury’s list of sanctioned terrorists says he is believed to have been born in the Cannes region on France’s southern, Mediterranean coast between 1986 and 1988.

Along with Bashar al-Assad’s Damascus regime, the Islamic State group has also been accused of deploying chemical attacks in Syria, where it is one of the factions in the long-running civil war.

Along with Asperman, the State Department also designated the Katibat al-Imam al-Bukhari, an armed group it describes as an Al Qaeda ally and “the largest Uzbek fighting force in Syria.”—AFP