EU imposes new Syria sanctions as 8 killed

EU imposes new Syria sanctions as 8 killed

EU imposes new Syria sanctions as 8 killed

Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad delivers a speech in Damascus. AP photo

The European Union tightened economic sanctions on Syria yesterday, ramping up international pressure.

Renewing their call for Assad to step aside and enable a democratic transition, EU foreign ministers warned that the violent repression risked taking Syria down “a very dangerous path of violence, sectarian clashes and militarization.” They urged Damascus to ease the suffering of the population in flashpoint towns, notably in the Homs region, by allowing “unhindered and sustained access to humanitarian agencies and workers” and ensuring that basic services work.

The EU slapped a 10th round of sanctions on the regime, adding bans on exporting gas and oil industry equipment to Syria and trading Syrian government bonds in an effort to choke off funding. Ministers also agreed to refrain from providing concessional loans to Syria -- credit at lower rates and longer grace periods than offered by the markets. And European companies are barred from selling software that could be used to monitor Internet and telephone communications.

The EU also added 12 more individuals and 11 more entities to a blacklist of people and companies hit by assets freezes and travel bans, diplomats said. Angry at the sanctions, Syria suspended its participation in the Mediterranean Union, a French initiative inaugurated in 2008 to bolster cooperation between Europe, the Middle East and north Africa.

Compiled from AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.