EU extends Syria sanctions to defense minister, others

Five additional officials in Assad government including leader's uncle are targeted for European travel bans, freezing assets.

August 2, 2011 12:53
2 minute read.
Maher and Bashar Assad

assad brothers 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

BRUSSELS - The European Union added on Tuesday Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib and several other security officials to a list of members of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government targeted by asset freezes and travel bans.

Five names were added to the sanctions list including the head of internal security at the intelligence directorate and the head of military intelligence in the town of Hama, which the EU says was the scene of an indiscriminate "massacre" of civilians at the weekend.

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The EU has imposed sanctions on Assad and 29 other individuals, three of them Iranian military commanders, and has targeted military-linked firms associated with the suppression of dissent.

The five new names published in the EU's Official Journal included Major-General Tawfiq Younes, head of internal security for the intelligence directorate, and Mohammad Mufleh, head of military intelligence in Hama.

Also named were Ayman Jabir, an official responsible for coordinating the militia, and Mohammed Makhlouf, an uncle and close associate of Assad.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the move showed that those responsible for the repression in Syria would be singled out and held accountable. He said more sanctions could be adopted in the future.

"The appalling crackdown we witnessed in Hama and other Syrian cities on July 30 and 31 only erode the regime's legitimacy and increase resentment," he said in a statement.

"In the absence of an end to the senseless violence and a genuine process of political reform, we will continue to pursue further EU sanctions.

"Unless there is meaningful change in Syria and an end to the crackdown, President Assad and those around him will find themselves isolated internationally and discredited within Syria."

Assad has sent tanks and security forces to besiege cities where residents have demanded reforms similar to those changing other parts of the Arab world. At least 122 protesters have been killed since Sunday, according to residents, witnesses and rights campaigners.

Avaaz, a global movement that monitors Syria as the government has banned foreign journalists, said that since March 15, 1,634 people have been killed in the crackdown. It estimated that 2,918 people had disappeared, 26,000 had been arrested with many of them beaten and tortured, and that 12,617 were still in detention.

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