THE EUROPEAN UNION has today imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the continuing crackdown on anti-government protesters, in which more than 900 people have reportedly been killed.
Earlier this month, the 27-nation EU sanctioned 13 people with links to the Syrian regime, but Assad was not among them. A European official said at the time that the omission was part of a deliberately gradual approach.
But the killing of anti-government protesters has continued unabated: Syrian security forces opened fire on a funeral procession for slain anti-government protesters Saturday, pushing the number of people reported killed in a two-month uprising to more than 900 and making it one of the deadliest of the Arab Spring.
The Guardian reports that Assad is now banned from travelling to the EU and will be subject to asset freezes. Germany’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, said: “If someone represses his own people like that, responds to peaceful demonstrations with force, this can’t be left unanswered by the European Union.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, heading into a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, said Monday that expanding the sanctions to include the Syrian president was “the right thing to do.”
Assad inherited power from his father in 2000. Between the two of them, the Assad family has ruled Syria for 40 years. The government has denied that it is targeting protesters, and insisted that it pursuing “armed terrorist gangs”, reports the BBC.
Last week, US President Barack Obama announced the imposition of sanctions on Syria.
Additional reporting by the AP