Flood of sanctions fails to halt Syrian bloodshed

Flood of sanctions fails to halt Syrian bloodshed

Syria’s embattled regime pressed its crackdown on protesters on Wednesday, with six people killed including a 12-year-old boy

By (AFP)

Published: Wed 30 Nov 2011, 9:33 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:46 AM

DAMASCUS — Syria’s embattled regime pressed its crackdown on protesters on Wednesday, with six people killed including a 12-year-old boy, even as a flood of fresh sanctions cut Damascus further from the outside world.

Turkey, following the lead of Arab states, imposed sanctions on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, banning all transactions with the Damascus government and central bank and freezing all Syrian state assets in Turkey.

In announcing the sanctions, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the Syrian regime was “at an impasse” and “prefers to repress its people rather than engage in democratic reforms.”

He warned similar measures will be taken against “some well-known businessmen who are strong advocates of the Syrian regime” and would include a ban on Syrian officials visiting the country and halting the transfer of arms and military equipment to the Syrian army.

On Sunday the Arab League — often decried for inaction and a reluctance to ruffle feathers — announced sweeping sanctions against Syria, including the suspension of flights from Syrian cities to be implemented on a date to be agreed next week.

Syria is also facing US and EU sanctions and the European Union is set to beef up punitive oil and financial measures against Damascus on Thursday, a move diplomats said was aimed at choking Syrian sources of funding.

The EU would include bans on exporting gas and oil industry equipment to Syria, trading Syrian government bonds and selling software that could be used to monitor Internet and telephone communications.

The US has slappped Syria with a package of sanctions, including a freeze on government assets, a ban on citizens from doing business with the country as well as a ban on the sale of telecommunications equipment to Syria.

The slew of sanctions have increased Syria’s isolation in the international community but appear to have had little impact on the bloodletting in the country.

On Wednesday, Syrian security forces killed six people in the northwestern province of Idlib, including a 12-year-old boy and a woman, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement received in Nicosia.

Meanwhile, army deserters fighting to overthrow Assad’s regime clashed with government security forces in Dael, a town in the southern flashpoint province of Daraa, the Britain-based rights group said.

It quoted a witness as saying the clashes were triggered by the arrival in Dael of at least 30 armoured personnel carriers, adding that two vehicles were destroyed in the fighting.

The Observatory also reported that more than 164 people were arrested by the security forces in Dael, where operations were still underway in the afternoon, while 19 people were wounded by gunfire, four in serious condition.

At least one diplomatic channel remained open to Damascus despite the widespread shunning from the international community.

The Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation, the world’s biggest Islamic body, met Wednesday in Saudi Arabia for emergency talks aimed at finding ways to end the bloodshed in his country.

“We renew our refusal to internationalise the crisis...” said OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

“We also refuse any military intervention and affirm our respect to Syria and its sovereignty... and welcome international and Arab efforts” to reach a solution, he said.

On Monday, UN-appointed investigators released a report accusing Syrian security forces of crimes against humanity, including the torture of children.

Investigators of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria said the crimes were committed under orders from the most senior officials in Assad’s regime.

Meanwhile authorities released 912 people who were involved in anti-regime unrest but have “no blood on their hands”, Syrian state television reported Wednesday, the second batch of those freed this month.

On November 15 authorities announced the release of 1,180 prisoners and earlier in the month they said 553 were set free.

According to a UN estimate released in early November, more than 3,500 people have been killed in the crackdown on dissent since mid-March.

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