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European Union Tightens Syria Sanctions

In response to the Syrian regime's continued violence against civilians, the European Council on Monday reinforced restrictive measures against the government headed by President Bashar-al-Assad.

Trade in gold, precious metals and diamonds with Syrian public bodies and the central bank will no more be permitted. Cargo flights operated by Syrian carriers will not have access to EU airports, with the exception of mixed passenger and cargo flights.

The Council also froze the assets of the Syrian central bank within the EU, while ensuring that legitimate trade can continue under strict conditions.

Finally, the Council subjected seven Ministers of the Syrian government, who are associated with human rights violations, to an asset freeze and a visa ban.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said the "decisions will put further pressure on those who are responsible for the ruthless campaign of repression in Syria. The measures target the regime and its ability to conduct the appalling violence against civilians." She warned that "as long as the repression continues, the EU will keep imposing sanctions."

Monday's decisions, together with the list of additional designations, will come into force on Tuesday when it is published in the EU Official Journal.

The EU called on the international community to join its efforts to target those responsible for or associated with the violent repression and those who support or benefit from the regime. The EU welcomed the Arab League's decision to increase economic pressure on the Syrian regime and expressed readiness to support it in the area of sanctions and restrictive measures.

The EU welcomed the commitment of the participants of the Friends of Syria Group to take steps to apply and enforce restrictive measures and sanctions on the Syrian regime and its supporters.

The 27-nation bloc has made it clear that it is "ready to develop a new and ambitious partnership with Syria across all areas of mutual interest, including by mobilizing assistance, strengthening trade and economic relations and supporting transitional justice and the political transition as soon as a genuine democratic transition begins."

EU called on President Assad to end immediately the killing of civilians, withdraw the Army from besieged towns and cities and step aside in order to make room for a peaceful transition for the sake of the country.

The EU repeated its call on all members of the United Nations Security Council to assume their responsibilities. The time has come for the international community to speak with one voice and demand an end to the bloodshed and speak out for a democratic future for Syria, it reminded.

The EU urged the Syrian Opposition to "set up a representative coordination mechanism under the auspices of the Arab League and to agree on a set of shared principles for working toward an orderly and peaceful transition."

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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