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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — European Union (EU) foreign ministers on Monday decided to further increase sanctions against the regime in Syria, where violence has continued with a series of deadly suicide bomb attacks in recent weeks.
The Council of the EU decided to freeze the assets of two entities which are believed to financially support the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and targeted three additional persons with a travel ban and an asset freeze. The names of the entities and persons targeted were not released.
However, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton underlined that the sections target the Syrian regime and not the civilian population. "As long as the repression continues, we will continue to put pressure on those responsible for it," Ashton said after the EU's fifteenth round of sanctions against the Syrian regime.
Monday's decision brings the total number of persons subject to sanctions to 128 whereas 43 entities affiliated to the Syrian regime are now affected by an EU asset freeze.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the new sanctions and voiced the UK's support for the work of Kofi Annan, the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations (UN) and the League of Arab States on the Syrian Crisis. "As long as the violence and repression continues we will continue to increase the pressure on the regime and its supporters. We will also press others to adopt and implement similar measures," he said.
On Thursday last week, two suicide bombers detonated their explosives-laden vehicles near the crowded al-Qazaz intersection at the southern ring-road and near a military intelligence building in Damascus, killing 55 people and injuring more than 370 others. The explosions also devastated nearby buildings and destroyed some 100 cars and pickup trucks.
Violence and suicide bombings have also increasingly affected other cities in Syria. In mid-February, at least 28 people were killed and 235 others were injured when a suicide bomber driving a white minibus broke through the security barrier at the entrance of a law enforcement building in the al-Arkoub area of Aleppo.