A protester burns a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
A protester burns a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration in Istanbul. European Union foreign ministers are set to slap fresh sanctions on Syria next week, adding 22 individuals and eight companies to an existing blacklist, EU diplomats said Wednesday. © Bulent Kilic - AFP/File
A protester burns a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
AFP
Last updated: January 19, 2012

EU to slap fresh sanctions on Syria

European Union foreign ministers are set to slap fresh sanctions on Syria next week, adding 22 individuals and eight companies to an existing blacklist, EU diplomats said Wednesday.

"As long as the repression continues we will step up our restrictive measures," said an EU diplomatic source speaking on condition of anonymity.

The sanctions are expected to be announced by foreign ministers meeting on Monday in Brussels, another EU diplomat said. No details were immediately available on the identities of the new targets.

The EU has already agreed 10 rounds of sanctions against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, with some 120 people and companies targeted so far by an EU assets freeze and travel ban.

It is also enforcing an arms embargo and a ban on imports of Syrian crude oil.

In December, it expanded its sanctions list to include Syria's finance and economy ministers, state-owned oil companies and two media organisations.

The EU move would come on the heels of a pledge by US President Barack Obama to redouble efforts to force a change of regime in Syria as the UN Security Council struggles to agree on a resolution on Damascus's crackdown on dissent.

Obama said concerns about the crackdown had been "uppermost" in talks with visiting Jordanian King Abdullah II on Tuesday.

"We continue to see unacceptable levels of violence inside that country," Obama said.

"We will continue to consult very closely with Jordan to create the kind of international pressure and environment that encourage the current Syrian regime to step aside so that a more democratic process and transition can take place inside of Syria."

The comments followed the Assad government's rejection of a proposal to deploy Arab forces to halt unrest in Syria, where the UN estimates more than 5,400 people have been killed in the crackdown on democracy protests since March.

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