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EU imposes sanctions on Assad's wife, relatives

23-03-2012
16:13
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EU foreign ministers imposed sanctions Friday on Asma Assad, the stylish, British-born wife of the Syrian president, banning her from traveling to European Union countries and freezing any assets she may have there.    

The foreign ministers also imposed the same sanctions on President Bashar Assad's mother, sister and sister-in-law, and eight government ministers, in a continuing attempt to stop the bloody crackdown on opposition in the country.        

In addition, the assets of two Syrian companies have been frozen, an EU official said. Bashar Assad himself has been the subject of EU sanctions since May.         
Also Friday, the United Nations' top human rights body sharply condemned the crackdown and the U.N. announced that the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, would travel to Russia and China for more talks aimed at peacefully resolving the crisis.     

The EU has imposed 12 previous rounds of sanctions against the Syrian regime, yet the crackdown has only intensified. But French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said he believed what he described as the three pillars of the regime were getting weaker.                    

Britain's Home Office said Friday that a British citizen subject to a EU travel ban could not be refused entry into the country.         

However, Nigel Kushner, a British lawyer who is an expert on sanctions, said he believed Asma Assad is now effectively banned from traveling to the UK.         

Annan and two aides will go to Moscow and Beijing to press the case for his six-point plan, his spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, said. Western countries have pushed for U.N. Security Council action, but Russia and China have twice vetoed resolutions criticizing Assad's regime.      

Fawzi told reporters Friday that Annan's team is "currently studying the Syrian responses carefully and negotiations with Damascus continue."      

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, speaking in Brussels, where the EU foreign ministers are meeting, said Friday it was very important to increase pressure on the Syrian regime.      

In Geneva, on Friday, the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council voted 41 to three in favor of an EU-sponsored resolution that was backed by Arab nations and the United States. China, Russia and Cuba voted against. Two countries abstained and one didn't vote.        

The resolution condemned "widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms perpetrated by the Syrian authorities" including summary executions, torture and sexual abuse of detainees and children, and other abuses.      

It also condemned "the deliberate destruction of hospitals and clinics, the obstruction and denial of medical assistance to the injured and sick, and the raids and killing of wounded protesters in both public and private hospitals."         

The vote also extended the mandate of a U.N. expert panel charged with reporting on alleged abuses in the country.         

Syria's ambassador Fayssal al-Hamwi rejected Friday's vote as "biased."         

Meanwhile, Syrian government forces fired machine guns and mortars Friday in fierce clashes with rebel army defectors in a town near the Turkish border, a Syrian activist group reported.

AP


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