EU adopts fresh sanctions against Syria

EU foreign ministers looked to toughening action against Syria after Assad`s latest pledges.

Brussels: The European Union on Thursday
announced fresh sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad`s
regime, adding 11 individuals and businesses to a list of
Syrians already targeted.

"The Council today adopted a decision ... imposing
restrictive measures on seven additional persons and
introducing such measures against four entities associated
with the Syrian regime, in view of the gravity of the
situation," said a statement from the office of EU foreign
policy chief Catherine Ashton.

After already targeting 23 Syrians, including Assad
and members of his inner circle, the new list includes three
Iranians who will also be hit by an asset freeze and travel
ban, diplomats said.

The three Iranians, whose named will be released along
with the others tomorrow, are accused of militarily aiding
Syria`s crackdown on dissent.

The expanded sanctions, spearheaded by France and
Britain and agreed in principle by the bloc`s 27 foreign
ministers this week, were adopted under a special procedure
for urgent decisions and will come into force tomorrow when
the EU Official Journal publishes the names of those on the
latest list.

The Iranians face sanctions for "providing military
equipment and support to help the regime suppress protests in
Syria," a diplomat said.

Another EU diplomat said their inclusion sent "a clear
message to the government of Iran that its provision of
equipment and technical advice to help the Syrian regime quash
protests is unacceptable."

Syria has reacted angrily to Europe beefing up its
sanctions, with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem this week
slamming the measures as "equivalent to war" and denying
receiving assistance from Iran or Lebanon`s militant group
Hezbollah in putting down the protests.

EU foreign ministers looked to toughening action
against Syria after Assad`s latest pledges of change in a
public address this week failed to convince.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Assad
should "reform or step aside."

Several European nations however have joined
Washington in pushing for a UN Security Council resolution
condemning the Syrian crackdown, but Russia has warned it
would veto such a move.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon yesterday urged the Security
Council to overcome divisions on the Syria crisis, saying: "I
do not see much credibility (in) what he has been saying."
The UN leader said it would be "very helpful" for the
UN Security Council to speak out on the Syria crisis.

PTI