EU adopts new sanctions on Syria's top brass: diplomat

AFP , Monday 23 Jan 2012

The European Union ratchets up its pressure on Syria by imposing new sanctions on Al-Assad regime security loyalists and companies

EU foreign ministers adopted fresh sanctions against Syria's military brass on Monday, targeting a large number of security officials on a new list of people and firms hit by a travel ban and asset freeze.

Ministers targeted 22 people and eight companies in this 11th round of EU sanctions to protest the ongoing repression in Syria, said a diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We call again for the violence to stop, for the [Arab League] monitors to be able to do their job unheeded," said European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton as she went into talks with the EU's 27 foreign ministers.

"We're deeply concerned with the situation in Syria," she added. "There needs to be a peaceful transition in that country."

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 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 comes after Syria rejected an Arab League plan for Al-Assad to transfer power to his deputy and make way for a national unity government.

"Syria rejects the decisions taken which are outside an Arab working plan, and considers them an attack on its national sovereignty and a flagrant interference in internal affairs," state TV quoted an official as saying.

The Arab League on Sunday asked the United Nations to support a new plan for resolving the crisis in Syria that would see Assad transfer power to his deputy and a government of national unity within two months.

Assad should "delegate powers to the vice president to liaise with a government of national unity," to be formed in two months, according to a statement read by Qatari premier Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani.

The statement followed a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo to determine the fate of their Syrian observer mission.

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