Saturday, September 3, 2011

EU steps up sanctions on Syria

Oil accounts for about 30% of Syria's income.

Source: Press TV

The European Union has finally bowed to pressure from the US, stepping up sanctions against Syria by banning imports of its oil.

The latest sanctions cover the purchase, import and transport of oil and other petroleum products from Syria, which accounts for about 30% of the country's currency earnings.

The EU also has banned European banks from opening credit lines for such sales, and prohibited insurance companies from insuring the cargos. The EU oil embargo, which was adopted on Friday, will take effect from Saturday.

About 95% of Syria's oil exports go to Europe.

Washington had repeatedly called on countries with close economic ties with Syria to join the US-backed sanctions against the country in response to what it called the Damascus crackdown on protesters.

The US has already banned the import of Syrian oil. Syria, however, says it will find buyers elsewhere.

The EU has also added four more Syrian officials and three Syrian firms, including a bank, to its list of those affected by the EU travel ban and asset freeze.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March, with demonstrations held both against and in support of President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Hundreds of people have been killed when some protest rallies turned into armed clashes between alleged protesters and state security forces as well as organized attacks by armed gangs against Syrian police forces.

While the opposition accuses security forces of being behind the killings, the government blames outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups for the deadly violence, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.

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