EU approves new Syria sanctions, targets 10 top officials
The European Union on Thursday added 10 top Syrian officials to its sanctions blacklist for their role in the "violent repression" of the civilian population.
"The persons added to the list include high-ranking military officials and senior figures linked to the regime," the European Council said in a press release.
EU leaders agreed last week to increase sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, citing devastating attacks on Syria's second city of Aleppo.
Suggestions they might also sanction Russia, which has backed long-time ally Assad's offensives against rebel forces and flown many of the missions against Aleppo, were dropped after sharp differences emerged.
The European Council of member states said the new Syrian sanctions would hit those "responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria, benefiting from or supporting the regime, and/or being associated with such persons".
The decision brings to 217 the number of individuals hit with travel bans or asset freezes, it said.
Another 69 entities are affected by asset freezes while the EU also has in place other sanctions against Syria as a whole, including arms and oil embargoes plus investment restrictions.
The name of the 10 officials targeted Thursday will be released in due course.The council last extended sanctions against the regime on May 27, 2016 and the sanctions are expected to stay in place until June 1, 2017.
Many Syrians have managed to evade sanctions however, through the use of offshore companies and anonymous Swiss banks.
Rami Makhlouf, Bashar al-Assad's cousin, was placed on a blacklist in 2008 but continued banking through the offshore accountancy firm, Mossack Fonseca regardless.