Syrian soldiers leaving Deraa 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The European Union listed 13 Syrian officials on the bloc's sanctions list on Tuesday, including a brother and a wealthy and influential cousin of President Bashar Assad, and intelligence chiefs.
The measures, asset freezes and travel bans, are part of a package of sanctions, including an arms embargo which went into effect on Tuesday, as part of EU efforts to try to force Syria to end violence against anti-government protesters.
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EU governments decided not to target the president for now, in what diplomats said was a bid to introduce punitive measures gradually. But Assad, grappling with the most serious challenge to his 11-year rule, could face EU sanctions soon, they said.
Failure to put Assad himself on the list underlines splits in the EU over the effectiveness of an embargo in restraining his government's actions. Sources said Germany and Spain opposed adding the president, over-riding strong backing for such a move from France and others.
Included was Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Assad, who owns Syria's largest mobile phone company, Syriatel, and several large firms in the construction and oil sectors.
The EU said in its official journal that he "bankrolls (Assad's) regime, allowing violence against demonstrators".
In 2008, the United States imposed sanctions against him because of corruption allegations.
The list also includes the president's brother, Maher al-Assad, who commands Syria's Republican Guard and is the second most powerful man in Syria.
Also affected is Ali Mamlouk, head of the General Intelligence Service, and Adulfattah Qudsiyeh, who runs military intelligence.
Syria's upheaval began on March 18 when protesters, inspired by revolts across the Arab world, marched in the southern city of Deraa. Assad initially responded with vague promises of reform, and last month lifted a 48-year-old state of emergency.
But when the demonstrations persisted he sent the army to crush dissent.