EU tightens weapons embargo on Damascus
BRUSSELS - The Associated PressThe EU yesterday tightened sanctions on Syria and required member nations to board ships and airplanes carrying suspicious cargo to the country, as foreign ministers warned that the escalating violence there was sparking a refugee crisis for its neighbors.
The 27 EU ministers added 29 names to an existing list of over 170 Syrian individuals and companies believed to be associated with the repression, or benefiting from President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. They also endorsed a plan to enforce the bloc’s existing arms embargo, requiring inspections on the territory or in the territorial waters of EU states.
“Our decisions will strengthen sanctions against the al-Assad regime and also help neighboring countries, mainly Jordan and Lebanon, who will have to take in many of the refugees. We’re doing both things,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
The EU banned weapons exports to Syria in May 2011. But until now, the 28 member nations had the right to decide whether or not to inspect cargos believed to be in breach of the embargo. “Sanctions are part of this whole way of trying to put pressure on regime,” said Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief.