BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union agreed on Thursday to add the Commercial Bank of Syria to its list of entities sanctioned in protest against repression and human rights violations In Syria, diplomats said.
An EU statement said it had frozen the assets of one more entity that financially supports the Syrian government, bringing the total to 19. It said it had ensured that legitimate trade was affected as little as possible. EU diplomats identified the latest addition as the Commercial Bank of Syria.
“Today’s decision is a direct consequence of the appalling and brutal campaign the Syrian regime is waging against its own people,” Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said in the statement.
“Our measures are not aimed at the Syrian people, but aim to deprive the regime of financial revenues and the support base necessary to maintain the repression.”
The EU in September imposed an embargo on crude oil imports from Syria to the bloc and banned European firms from investing in Syria’s oil industry. It also imposed sanctions on Syria’s main mobile phone operator Syriatel and its largest private company, Cham Holding.
However, the effect of the EU sanctions has been blunted by a decision by Russia and China to block a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution that could have led to broader sanctions.
The United Nations says 2,900 people have been killed in President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on mainly peaceful protests.
The Syrian leadership blames armed groups backed by foreign powers for the violence, saying 1,100 members of the security forces have been killed since unrest broke out in March.
Reporting by Justyna Pawlak, editing by Sebastian Moffett