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
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
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
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