Sanctions bite in Syria as oil giant Shell pulls out

December 2, 2011 14:47

BEIRUT - Royal Dutch Shell said on Friday it would cease operations in Syria to heed new European Union sanctions against Damascus, deepening the international isolation of President Bashar al-Assad imposed over his violent crackdown on popular unrest.

In the latest bloodshed, Syrian army defectors killed eight Air Force intelligence personnel in an attack on their base in the north of the country, according to an opposition group.

The incident suggested that armed deserters are turning increasingly from defending civilian protesters against violent repression by Assad's security forces to an offensive of ambushes and roadside bombs, raising the specter of civil war.

Western and Arab countries have been intensifying punitive sanctions to press Assad to carry out pledges to halt bloodshed by withdrawing forces from restive cities, start transition talks with the opposition and admit Arab League observers.

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