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Syrian president's brother tops list of EU sanction targets

Other News Materials 10 May 2011 12:11
The European Union on Tuesday listed 13 Syrian officials against whom it has issued sanctions for a violent crackdown on anti-regime protesters, with President Bashar al-Assad not included, but one of his brother's topping the list.
Syrian president's brother tops list of EU sanction targets

The European Union on Tuesday listed 13 Syrian officials against whom it has issued sanctions for a violent crackdown on anti-regime protesters, with President Bashar al-Assad not included, but one of his brother's topping the list, DPA reported.

Maher al-Assad, who commands a Syrian army division, has been "the principal overseer of violence against demonstrators," according to the list published in the EU's official journal on Tuesday as part of the sanctions' entry into force.

In a thinly veiled reference to the president, the EU's top foreign policy official warned late Monday that the bloc "will consider extending the restrictive measures ... including at the highest level of leadership" if the violence in Syria does not stop.

"The EU calls again (on) President Bashar al-Assad to choose the path of reform and national inclusive dialogue and avoid further bloodshed whilst the door remains open," Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

Those targeted by the first round of sanctions also include Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim Al-Shaar, leading figures in the country's intelligence and political security services, and members of the Shabiha militia.

Businessman Rami Makhlouf is additionally listed for being an associate of Maher al-Assad who "bankrolls the regime."

All 13 men are now prevented from traveling to the EU and any funds they may have in the bloc will be frozen.

EU member states a day earlier had also agreed to enforce an embargo on the export of weapons to Syria.

"The aim of these measures is to achieve a change of policy by the Syrian leadership without further delay," Ashton noted. "The EU urges Syria to put an immediate end to violence and swiftly introduce genuine and comprehensive political reform."

Rights groups say more than 600 people have been killed and 8,000 jailed or gone missing in Syria as part of a crackdown on protesters since March. Opposition groups put the death toll at more than 700.

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