ShareThis Page
Europe tightens sanctions on Syria in effort to end crackdown |

Europe tightens sanctions on Syria in effort to end crackdown

| Friday, October 14, 2011 12:00 a.m

DAMASCUS — The European Union expanded sanctions against Syria in a push to end a violent crackdown on opponents of President Bashar Assad, freezing the assets of an organization affiliated with his government.

The move brings to 19 the number of Syrian groups blacklisted by the EU, which said it will release the name of the organization tomorrow. The EU announcement came as Foreign Secretary William Hague told lawmakers in London that Britain had summoned Syria’s ambassador to warn him against the intimidation of Syrians in Britain who oppose Assad’s rule.

“Today’s decision is a direct consequence of the appalling and brutal campaign the Syrian regime is waging against its own people,” the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said in an e-mail from Brussels. “Our measures are not aimed at the Syrian people, but aim to deprive the regime of financial revenues and the support base necessary to maintain the repression.”

Protests to demand Assad’s ouster started in March as part of the wave of unrest across the Middle East and North Africa this year that has unseated governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Assad has blamed the demonstrations in Syria on foreign-backed extremists. At least 4,000 Syrian civilians have been killed by security forces, according to Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.

“We will go on working with other nations to intensify the pressure on the regime,” Hague said. He reiterated calls by the EU and the United States for Assad to step down, saying, “Too much blood has been spilled for this regime to recover its credibility.”

Meanwhile, Syrian troops clashed with armed men believed to be military defectors in a southern village and a northwestern town, killing at least 13 people in the latest sign that the 7-month-old uprising against Assad is becoming increasingly militarized, activists said.

In an attempt by the regime to show it still had the upper hand, the government took journalists on a tour of a central town where the most serious insurrection in recent weeks drew a crushing response. Many buildings in Rastan were burned, shops were shuttered and soldiers manned military checkpoints.

Several residents told of gunmen who they said terrorized the area. And government escorts displayed rifles and other light weapons they insisted had been seized from gangs or terrorists, rather than army defectors.

Despite the spiraling violence and continuing protests, Assad said Syria has “passed the most difficult period” and is now working to become “a model to be followed in the region.” He was apparently referring to promised political reforms, most of which have yet to be delivered. The comments, to a visiting Lebanese delegation, were reported by the official news agency.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.