Berlin threatens new sanctions against Syrian regime

AFP , Sunday 31 Jul 2011

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle condemns the continued military violence and threatens to impose new sanctions against Bashar al-Assad's regime

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday sharply condemned the military crackdown on demonstrators in Syria and threatened new sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"I am deeply shocked by what we are currently seeing in Syria," Westerwelle said in a statement issued by his ministry amid reports that some 95 people were killed on Sunday after the military opened fire on anti-government demonstrators in the central Syrian city of Hama.

"The federal government calls on President Assad to immediatly end violence against peaceful demonstrators," and engage in a dialogue, the minister said.

"If President Assad fails to change course, we and our partners in the EU will impose new sanctions," he said.

The 27-nation European Union has already slapped asset freezes and travel bans on the Damascus regime, including against Assad.

Westerwelle also said that Germany, which currently chairs the UN Security Council, was stepping up diplomatic efforts to convince fellow members of the council to condemn the regime's conduct.

France, Britain, Germany and Portugal have proposed a Security Council resolution condemning Assad's crackdown, but Russia and China have voiced strong opposition, while Brazil, South Africa and India have also raised objections.

Since anti-regime protests broke out, the crackdown on dissent has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 civilians and more than 360 members of the security forces, according to a Syrian Observatory toll.

More than 12,000 people are also reported to have been arrested in the crackdown, although it is not clear how many of them have since been released.

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