In response to the ever increasing violence in Syria, the European Union has strengthened enforcement of its arms embargo against that Middle East country.
EU countries will be obliged to inspect vessels and aircraft heading to Syria if they suspect the cargo contains arms or equipment for internal repression. This obligation applies in member-states' seaports and airports as well as in their territorial sea, in accordance with international law. Items that may not be exported to Syria under EU law must be seized. In addition, aircraft and vessels heading to Syria will have to provide additional pre-arrival and pre-departure information on their cargo.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said she was deeply concerned about the escalating violence and its tragic consequences for the Syrian population. "The EU has warned against a further militarization of the conflict. Today we are taking practical steps towards limiting the supplies that fuel the fighting," the High Representative said.
The EU embargo on exporting arms and equipment for internal repression to Syria has been in force since May 2011. It is also prohibited to provide that Arab country grants, loans, export credit insurance, technical assistance, insurance and reinsurance for exports of arms and of equipment for internal repression.
A meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers on Monday also froze the assets of three entities supporting the Bashar-al-Assad regime. It also targeted 26 persons responsible for the violent repression with a travel ban and an asset freeze.
They include members of the Army and the intelligence and security services directly involved in the repression of the civilian population.
With this, the total number of persons subject to sanctions rose to 155, and the entities now affected by an EU asset freeze to 52.
The Foreign Affairs Council also approved an exemption to the existing EU asset freeze: Member-states may authorize payments through banks subject to sanctions if the transfers constitute financial support to Syrian students or researchers in the EU.
This is the 17th round of EU sanctions against the Syrian regime since the start of violent repression. The Council called for united action by all members of the U.N. Security Council, including Russia and China, to add more robust and effective pressure on the Assad regime.
Expressing concern over the influx of weapons into Syria, the EU called on all states to refrain from delivering arms to the country. The EU said it was seriously concerned about the potential use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.
The EU also urged the international community to join its efforts in taking steps to apply and enforce restrictive measures on the Syrian regime and its supporters.
The EU decided to double its aid for emergency medical care, shelter, food and water to those Syrians most affected by the ever-worsening crisis, both inside and outside the country. An additional EUR 20 million of relief aid will bring the European Commission's total assistance in this crisis to EUR 63 million.
by RTT Staff Writer
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