EU slaps Syria with further sanctions | News | DW | 14.05.2012
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EU slaps Syria with further sanctions

European Union foreign ministers have said the bloc will impose fresh sanctions on Syria, without publicly providing precise details. Diplomats said the fresh restrictions applied to three people and two firms.

A framed portrait of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, against which flowers have been left, is seen at a checkpoint as a Syrian soldier and United Nations (U.N.) observer walk by during a field visit made by U.N. observers to the Madaya area, near Damascus May 6, 2012. The observers are visiting one of the locations where there have been protests against Assad's regime. REUTERS/Khaled al- Hariri (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Syrien UN Beobachter Bürgerkrieg Assad Portrait Checkpoint

Foreign ministers from the 27 EU member states issued a statement Monday saying that the bloc would implement its 15th round of sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's Syrian government.

The statement, released as the ministers met in Brussels, said they had agreed to adopt "sanctions against the Syrian regime." Diplomats told reporters on condition of anonymity that the new restrictions would apply to three individuals and two businesses that are thought to provide funds to Assad's government.

"The ceasefire is not being fully implemented," Britain's foreign minister, William Hague, told reporters. "There continues to be killing, torture, abuse in Syria. So it's very important to keep the pressure on the Assad regime."

Hague's counterpart from Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, said "we must maintain political pressure."

The UN's last official estimate, from March 27, put Syria's total death toll from 14 months of violence at more than 9,000. Observer organizations have published more recent estimates stretching as high as 12,000.

Prior to Monday's decision, the EU had already blacklisted 126 individuals and 41 firms or utilities, while also freezing central bank assets, banning EU-bound cargo flights from Syria and restricting trade in gold and other precious metals.

Observers, truces, and fighting

Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Mood

More than half of Major General Robert Mood's team of observers are now in Syria

Despite the peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan and signed in early April by Syria's government and opposition, violence has continued. The UN mission in Syria said that by Sunday, 189 observers were on the ground - constituting more than half of the force that is scheduled to swell to 300 in total. The observers are being deployed in flashpoint areas in a bid to calm tensions.

"I hope that all of them will come in as soon as possible," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said of the observers. "We do see that that leads to a sort of reduction in violence and repression in areas where they are able to be."

Observer groups on Monday reported further violence in central Syria and in the Lebanese border town of Tripoli, where residents are thought to be sympathetic to their neighboring Syrian rebels. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 50 people were killed over the weekend, both in clashes between soldiers and rebels and in shelling attacks by government forces.

The capital Damascus was rocked by twin suicide bombings last Thursday that killed 55 people and wounded a further 372.

msh/ipj (AFP, dapd, dpa)