BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union governments agreed on Friday to expand the number of Syrian officials and institutions targeted by EU sanctions and laid out plans for a possible oil embargo, EU diplomats said.
At a meeting in Brussels to discuss sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, EU ambassadors agreed the bloc should toughen its stance because of a continued violent crackdown against opposition protesters.
They agreed to add 15 people and five state institutions to a list of targeted entities, and asked the bloc’s diplomatic service, the EEAS, to prepare plans for further measures, in particular an oil embargo.
“Ambassadors invited the EEAS and the European Commission to develop options for further sanctions ... notably a potential oil embargo,” one diplomat said.
The EU decisions follow a significant stepping up of pressure against Assad by the EU and the United States, which on Thursday called for Assad to step down, marking a toughening in the West’s approach. Major states had until now urged him to reform rather than leave.