Iran Human RightsEU names Iranian Guard commanders in Syria sanctions

EU names Iranian Guard commanders in Syria sanctions

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Reuters: The European Union published extended sanctions on Syria on Friday, including the names of three commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard accused of supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s suppression of dissent.

By David Brunnstrom

BRUSSELS, June 24 (Reuters) – The European Union published extended sanctions on Syria on Friday, including the names of three commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard accused of supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s suppression of dissent.

The list, published in the European Union’s Official Journal, also included a Syrian property firm, an investment fund and two other enterprises accused of funding Assad’s government.

According to the Official Journal, the Iranians were Major-General Qasem Soleimani and Brigadier Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari of the Revolutionary Guard, and the Guard’s deputy commander for intelligence, Hossein Taeb.

Four Syrian officials were also added to the list.

The Iranian commanders were accused of providing equipment and support to help suppression of dissent in Syria, in which rights groups say 1,300 civilians have been killed.

The Syrian business entities named were Bena Properties, the Al Mashreq Investment Fund, the Hamsho International Group and the Military Housing Establishment.

In May, the European Union added Assad and other senior officials to a list of Syrians banned from travelling to the EU and subject to asset freezes. The new list brings the number of individuals and entities targeted to 34.

The move follows a speech by Assad in which he promised reforms to address a wave of protests against his rule, but which opponents said did not meet popular demands for sweeping political change and the European Union called “disappointing”.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Friday were to endorse a statement on Syria condemning “in the strongest possible terms the ongoing repression and unacceptable and shocking violence the Syrian regime continues to apply against its own citizens”.

Their statement also said the bloc fully supported efforts to ensure an adequate response in the United Nations, where Britain, France, Germany and Portugal have drafted a resolution which condemns Assad’s government, but does not impose sanctions or authorise military action.

Russia and China have opposed this, but without saying if they would use their vetoes in the Council to block it.

While Western countries have used strong rhetoric to criticise Assad, their practical response has so far been limited to targeted economic sanctions, a far cry from the military intervention deployed against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in Libya to halt his attacks on civilians.

On Wednesday, Syria scorned the EU dismissal of Assad’s reform promises, saying it showed Europe wanted to sow chaos in the country. It threatened to turn to other regions for trade and support. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom, editing by Rex Merrifield and Jon Boyle)

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