BERLIN - Germany called for more European Union sanctions against Syria on Monday and urged the UN Security Council to discuss the government crackdown there again this week.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said reports of the bombardment of Syria's port city of Latakia by its own tanks and navy gunboats gave a new reason to send a stronger message and increase EU sanctions.

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"This current use of violence cannot be justified morally or under international law in any way," he said. "We are advocating for the UN Security Council to address the Syria issue again this week."

Latakia residents said Syrian forces shelled the city on Monday in the third day of an assault on Sunni neighborhoods, which had seen mounting protests against President Bashar Assad's autocratic rule.

At least 1,700 civilians have been killed in the unrest, rights groups say, and a series of military assaults on cities and towns since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan 10 days ago has sharpened international condemnation.

Russia and China, both with veto powers in the Security Council and backed by India, South Africa and Brazil, have opposed the idea of slapping UN sanctions on Damascus.

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