President Barack Obama is considering fresh Syria sanctions that could claw deeper into the regime and target its Russian backers.
Officials and diplomats said the strategy is still being thrashed out, but initial efforts could focus on passing UN sanctions against those implicated in chemical weapons attacks.
A UN-backed panel is expected in the next few weeks to present new findings about deadly chemical attacks in 2014 and 2015.
The panel — formed by the United Nations and the independent Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — has already pinned the blame on the Syrian Air Force.
But the latest report, due before October 27, is expected to go into more detail about who is responsible, paving the way for targeted sanctions.
Supporters say the sanctions would send a signal that despite years of fighting, innumerable atrocities and at least 300,000 deaths, some small measure of accountability in Syria remains.
And while most of President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle and top military aides are already the subjects of US travel bans and assets freezes, officials believe that targeting lower-level military officers would have a chilling effect on Syrian military morale.