EU extends Syria sanctions as violence continues

"It is difficult to say who started first, but the army's armored personnel carriers drove through the demonstration firing at people."

By REUTERS
June 22, 2011 09:06
2 minute read.
Syrians protest against  Assad in Deir al-Zour

Syrian Protests 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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AMMAN - European Union states have extended sanctions against Syria to four military-linked firms and more people connected with the violent suppression of anti-government protests, an EU diplomat said on Wednesday.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, facing mounting international pressure and wider street protests against his rule despite a military crackdown that has killed more than 1,300 people, on Monday promised reforms within months.

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But protesters and world leaders dismissed his pledges as inadequate and the violence continued on Tuesday with the killing of seven people by security forces during clashes in two cities between Assad loyalists and demonstrators, according to a leading activist.

Ammar Qurabi, head of the Syrian National Organization for Human Rights, said Assad loyalists, known as shabbiha, shot at protesters in Homs, Hama and Mayadeen, killing at least seven civilians and wounding 10.

"It is difficult to say who started first, but the army's armored personnel carriers drove through the (anti-Assad) demonstration firing at people. One is confirmed killed but seven more people suffered serious wounds," a resident of Mayadeen said.

The violence followed rallies organized by authorities in several cities in support of Assad, who has kept a low profile in the three months since the uprising against his 11-year rule began, inspired by popular protests across the Arab world.

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The EU diplomat said Britain and France had prepared lists proposing to add fewer than a dozen individuals and entities to those already targeted by EU asset freezes and visa bans.

The British list also proposed sanctions against at least two Iranian individuals involved in providing equipment and support for the suppression of dissent in Syria, but one of the 27 EU member states had yet to approve this.

"The French list was approved in full, but there was a reserve on the British list by one member state," the diplomat said.

The full list would be approved if no formal objection was raised by 0800 GMT on Wednesday. The diplomat declined to name the entities or individuals, but said they were not in Syria's oil industry.

"They are all linked to the military and the suppression of dissent," the diplomat said, who did not want to be identified.

In May the European Union added Assad and other senior officials to a list of those banned from traveling to the EU and subject to asset freezes.

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