14 killed in Syria as EU agrees on sanctions, oil embargo

First time EU will target Syrian industry; analysts say sanctions may have only limited impact on Assad's access to funds; crackdown continues.

By REUTERS
September 2, 2011 20:06
2 minute read.
Girl holds poster of Assad

Girl holds poster of Assad311. (photo credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

AMMAN - The European Union decided to impose sanctions on Syrian oil exports on Friday, saying President Bashar Assad was massacring his own countrymen, as 14 more protesters were killed.

"The sanctions have been agreed," an official said in the Polish resort of Sopot where EU foreign ministers met to set out their response to Assad's military crackdown on five months of protests against his 11-year rule.

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"President Assad is carrying out massacres in his own country," Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said. "The whole international community is urging him to relinquish power."

As the EU tightened the economic screw on Assad, demonstrations broke out in several parts of Syria, mainly in rural regions because of a heavy army presence in urban areas, activists and residents said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had the names of 14 civilians killed in attacks on protesters, mostly in the Damascus suburbs, around the city of Homs and in the eatern province of Deir al-Zor.

Syria's official SANA news agency said three members of the security forces were killed when their bases near Damascus and in Homs came under attack. A resident near one of the incidents said only security forces had opened fire.

Syria has expelled foreign media, making it hard to verify accounts of the unrest in which the Britain-based Observatory says 2,000 civilians have been killed as well as 463 soldiers and police -- some by anti-Assad gunmen and others by security forces for refusing to shoot demonstrators.

"Death rather than humiliation!" chanted protesters in the village of Kfar Zita in Hama province, according to a YouTube video released by residents.

"Oh mother, Bashar is in his last days," chanted a crowd in the town of Kfar Nubbul in northern Idlib province, carrying a banner that compared the modest international response to Syria's uprising compared to interventions in major oil states.

"If we don't have oil like Iraq or Libya, don't we deserve to live?" it said.

The EU has already banned Europeans from doing business with dozens of Syrian officials, government institutions and military-linked firms it says are tied to the violent repression of the protests.

Four people and three entities were added to that sanctions list on Friday, the EU official said.

"Any step that harms the regime is welcome on the street level, especially since all state resources are now geared to repress the people," said Akram Izzedin, an activist in Damascus.

"Assad and his cohorts treat the oil sector as (their) property... The people have seen no benefit from it."

Friday's steps are the first time the EU will target Syrian industry but the sanctions do not go as far as the investment ban imposed by the United States last month.

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