More pressure. Assad
Photo: EPA

EU set to beef up Syria sanctions

Diplomats say measures to include ban on Syrian-run cargo flights, freeze on Syrian central bank assets; Information Minister Mahmud says authorities had no information that two killed journalists had entered Syrian territory. Sarkozy: Enough is enough

The European Union is set to slap fresh sanctions on Syria, including a ban on Syrian-run cargo flights into the 27-nation bloc, EU diplomats said Wednesday.


"There will be more sanctions announced Monday" when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels, one source said.


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Other measures include a freeze on the European assets of the Syrian central bank and restrictions on trade in gold and precious metals.


A further seven people also are to be added to an existing list of almost 150 entities and people, including President Bashar Assad and his inner circle, under EU travel bans and asset freezes.



Cargo flights to the EU operated by Syrians will not be allowed to land, but should they be carrying passengers they will be given access to EU nations.


Meanwhile, western powers condemned Syria on Wednesday for the killing of two foreign journalists, with Washington slamming the regime's "shameless brutality" and Paris demanding an immediate end to attacks.


American war correspondent Marie Colvin of Britain's Sunday Times and freelance French photojournalist Remi Ochlik were killed in the city of Homs in what activists said was shelling by Assad's forces.


'All-encompassing national dialogue'

Three other Western journalists were wounded in the attack on a makeshift media centre in the Baba Amr district, including Colvin's British photographer colleague Paul Conroy and French reporter Edith Bouvier of Le Figaro.


"This tragic incident is another example of the shameless brutality of the Assad regime," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told AFP.


France demanded access to the victims of the attack and summoned Syria's envoy to Paris.


"I am asking the Syrian government to immediately stop attacks and respect its humanitarian obligations," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.


"I have asked our embassy in Damascus to require the Syrian authorities provide secure medical access to assist the victims with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross," he said in a statement.


He said he had also "summoned the Syrian ambassador... to remind him of the intolerable nature of the Syrian government's behavior."


French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the incident was a further sign that Assad should give up power.


"This shows that enough is enough, this regime must go. There is no reason why Syrians should not have the right to live their lives, to freely choose their destiny," Sarkozy said.


British Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to Colvin, saying her death in Syria showed the risks journalists face in exposing the truth.


"This is a desperately sad reminder of the risks that journalists take to inform the world of what is happening and the dreadful events in Syria," Cameron told parliament.


British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Colvin and Ochlik "died bringing us the truth about what is happening to the people of Homs."


"Governments around the world have the responsibility to act upon that truth -- and to redouble our efforts to stop the Assad regime's despicable campaign of terror in Syria," he said.


Russia, which has opposed Western efforts to rein in the Syrian regime, also condemned the deaths.

The foreign ministry said "Moscow resolutely condemns and is seriously concerned" by the killings.


"This tragic event once again confirms the need for all the sides of the Syrian conflict to end the violence and move toward a political course with the start of an all-encompassing national dialogue without preconditions."


Syrian authorities insisted they were not aware Colvin and Ochlik had entered the country and urged foreign reporters in Syria to register with the government.


"The authorities had no information that the two journalists had entered Syrian territory," Information Minister Adnan Mahmud told AFP.


Mahmud said he had asked "specialized authorities in Homs to look for them (Colvin and Ochlik)."


"The ministry urges all foreign journalists who entered Syria illegally to report to the nearest immigration office to legalize their presence," he added.




פרסום ראשון: 02.22.12, 18:41
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