January 23, 2012 / 1:08 PM / 8 years ago

EU expands sanctions against Syria

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU foreign ministers tightened sanctions against Syria on Monday, adding 22 people and eight entities to a list of banned people and groups, and said President Bashar al-Assad’s violent crackdown against protesters was unacceptable.

The individuals concerned were responsible for human rights violations and the entities supported Assad’s government, European Union foreign ministers said in a statement issued after a meeting in Brussels.

Those proscribed will have their assets frozen and the individuals will be banned from entering the European Union.

“The message from the European Union is clear,” said the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton. “The crackdown must stop immediately.”

The move came the day after Arab League foreign ministers proposed that Assad hand over power to a deputy and set up a new unity government. [nL5E8CM0LC] Damascus rejected the plan on Monday.

EU ministers welcomed the Arab League’s resolution.

“President Assad must step aside immediately to allow for a peaceful and democratic transition,” they said.

Assad’s government began a crackdown against popular protests 10 months ago. Human rights groups say more than 6,000 people have since been killed in the violence, which the government has blamed on militants.

Monday’s tightening of EU measures brings the total number of Syrian entities targeted by an asset freeze to 38 and the number of individuals subject to an asset freeze and visa ban to 108.

Reporting By Sebastian Moffett; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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