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The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton: the EU will impose an arms embargo against Syria fromtomorrow. JoAnna Pollonais / Demotix

EU imposes arms embargo on Syria, as hundreds more protesters are detained

The EU says an arms embargo, and sanctions against 13 Syrian officials, will take effect tomorrow.

THE EUROPEAN UNION has this evening imposed an arms embargo on Syria, and issued sanctions against 13 Syrian officials, after the country’s security forces arrested hundreds more anti-government protesters.

The demonstrators were arrested in house-to-house raids across the country today, in moves aimed at stamping out a revolt that has engulfed the country for several weeks now – as protesters try to oust Bashar Assad from the presidency.

Today’s arrests, which zeroed in on the protests’ organisers and participants, were focused in four areas = the central city of Homs, the coastal city of Banias, some suburbs of the capital Damascus and villages around the southern flashpoint city of Daraa.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said he and other activists had heard the crackle of gunfire in the Damascus suburb of Maadamiyeh.

Activists said security forces redeployed in the town Monday after a brief withdrawal the day before, closing all roads leading in.

The area – which has seen large demonstrations in past weeks – was without electricity, communication or water, activists said. Residents also reported house-to-house raids and arrests and said several tanks were stationed in the town.

By early afternoon, scores of women were demonstrating in Banias, demanding the release of hundreds of detained men who were being held at the city’s soccer stadium. Security officers promised the women that all men over the age of 40 would be freed.

In an indication that the regime shows no sign of folding, Assad was quoted as saying in comments published Monday that “the current crisis in Syria will be overcome and that the process of administrative, political and media reforms are continuing.”

That report, in the private daily Al-Watan, which is close to the government, did not elaborate – merely adding that Assad made the comments while receiving a local delegation yesterday.


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