EU readies sanctions to target Syrian economic sector

Britain, France push UNSC resolution condemning Assad's crackdown on protesters; Erdogan: Turkey won't turn away Syrian refugees.

assad speech 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
assad speech 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON - European Union nations are preparing a fresh round of sanctions against Syria that target Syrian companies, a senior European diplomat told reporters on Wednesday.
The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the the additional sanctions were part of a concerted effort to increase pressure on the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad to end a crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.
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"We are working on a third round of sanctions that would target companies, the economic sector," the diplomat told reporters.
The EU has already passed two rounds of sanctions against Syria this year. The first imposed travel restrictions and asset freezes on up to 13 Syrian officials for their part in the crackdown but excluded Assad.
The second round added Assad and nine other senior members of the Syrian government to the travel bans and asset freezes.
In addition to the EU sanctions, France and Britain put forward a UN Security Council resolution on Wednesday condemning Assad's crackdown on protesters, British Prime Minister David Cameron said.
"Today in New York, Britain and France will be tabling a resolution at the Security Council condemning the repression and demanding accountability and humanitarian access. And if anyone votes against that resolution or tries to veto it, that should be on their conscience," Cameron told parliament.
The draft resolution condemns the repression and demands humanitarian access, Cameron said in London. But it was unclear how Russia, which holds a veto, would vote. Citing NATO's inconclusive bombing of Tripoli, Moscow says it will not back intervention against Syria in the Security Council.
Also on Wednesday, Turkey called on Syria to rein in violence against civilians and promised not to turn away refugees as some residents of a Syrian border town headed for the Turkish frontier in fear of a military assault.
"Syria should change its attitude towards civilians and should take its attitude to a more tolerant level as soon as possible," said Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has had warm relations with Assad. Erdogan, who has distanced himself from Assad since the Syrian uprising began, said Turkey would not "close its doors" to refugees fleeing Syria.
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Assad's government has accused armed bands of killing scores of its security men in Jisr al-Shughour and has vowed to send in the army to carry out their "national duty to restore security."
Accounts of the violence that began in the hilly town of Jisr al-Shughour on Friday vary, with officials saying gunmen ambushed troops and residents reporting an army mutiny.
At Jisr al-Shughour, home to tens of thousands of people, residents said they were taking cover and bracing for attacks. Some 120 men, women and children fled into Turkey overnight to seek refuge, the Anatolian news agency said.
Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops had deployed in villages around Jisr al-Shughour, including Ariha to the east and on the main Latakia highway to the southwest.
Residents said about 40 tanks and armored vehicles were about 7 km (4 miles) from Jisr al-Shughour.