EU members to explore 'all options' on Syria sanctions

Report: US Treasury to release names of officials to be targeted by sanctions, including Assad's brother; 453 reported dead in clashes between army, anti-gov't protesters; UNHRC to hold special Syria session.

Syria protest flag 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Syria protest flag 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
European Union governments will discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions against Syria on Friday, with various measures being explored, a spokesman for the EU executive said on Wednesday.
"There will be a meeting on Friday ... All options are on the table," foreign affairs spokesman Michael Mann told reporters at a European Commission briefing.
RELATED:Calls for sanctions grow as Assad steps up offensiveUS: Assad no longer potential peace partner for IsraelCampaign to block Syria's election to UNHRC underway
If agreed, EU sanctions would likely start with asset freezes and travel restrictions against key officials, diplomats have said.
Also on Wednesday, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had collected the names of at least 453 civilians killed during almost six weeks of pro-democracy protests in Syria.
Berlin announced that it is in favor of European Union sanctions against Syria's leadership and wants Damascus to hold to account those responsible for violence against demonstrators.
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"The possibility of enacting EU sanctions against the Syrian leadership will be examined, we will strongly support such sanctions," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular news conference.
"Such sanctions would entail possible travel restrictions for Syrian political leaders, asset freezes, and the freezing of the economic aid that flows from Europe to Syria," he added.
Seibert also said that Germany wanted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government to release the many Syrians who had been arbitrarily arrested after troops and tanks were deployed to crush the uprising.
"We call on President Assad to enter into dialogue with his citizens instead of shooting them, and to come to an accommodation," Seibert added.
'Assad's brother tops list of Syrians hit by US sanctions'
Maher Assad, brother of Syrian President Bashar Assad is likely to top the list of Syrian targets of US economic sanctions, Al Arabiya reported on Wednesday.
The sanctions, which Washington is considering, would freeze assets of Syrian officials in American banks, according to Al Arabiya. The US Treasury Department reportedly plans to release the list of officials to be hit by sanctions before Friday.
Assad's brother, commander of the Syrian Army's Fourth Division, is considered the second most powerful man in Syria.
In addition, the UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on the deteriorating situation in Syria on Friday, after enough states backed a US request, a UN statement said on Wednesday.
The US request to convene an urgent session of the 47-member Geneva forum was endorsed by 16 member states including Britain, France, and the United States, it said. No Arab countries were among those requesting the session, which requires one-third of the forum's membership to hold.
Witnesses report seeing tanks, sniper fire
Witnesses said they saw at least 30 Syrian Army tanks on tank carriers seen moving on the Damacus Circular Highway on Wednesday.
Snipers intermittently shot into Deraa, a witness told CNN, adding that the situation is "worsening day after day."
Syrian opposition group the National Initiative for Change called for democracy that will "safeguard the nation from falling into a period of violence, chaos and civil war." The group said that its "massive grassroots revolution" will break Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, unless he makes democratic reforms, AP reported.
Without reform, the group reportedly said, "there is no alternative left for Syrians except to move forward along the same path as did the Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans before them."
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