European Union leaders decided yesterday (October 20) to expand the list of sanctions against Syria by adding two entities and 16 individuals to the blacklist for their involvement in the Syrian civil war. The decision will freeze assets and ban travel for 14 of the newly blacklisted individuals on the ground of “the violent repression of the civilian population,” an official statement said. The remaining two people along with the two entities were punished for the provision of support to the country’s President Bashar al-Assad. The names are to be published today (October 21) in the official EU journal. Diplomatic sources, however, already suggested that the new sanctions mainly covered the officials who had lately been appointed by President Assad.
The latest expansion of the blacklist thus brings the total number of sanctioned Syrians to 211 and the number of entities to 63. The EU foreign ministers moreover advised that the EU should forbid exports of jet fuel to Syria as it was being used by President Assad’s air force to attack civilians. The political agreement should enter into force after the approval by EU leadership. In addition to the blacklists, Brussels also maintains an oil embargo against the country and limits mutual financial transactions.
The United Nations (UN) estimates that more than 191,000 people have died in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011 when popular uprising against President Assad turned into a callous sectarian war which has also forced millions to leave their homes and destroyed much of the country. The UN also earlier described the conflict as being “overtly sectarian in nature” between Alawite government forces, militias and other Shia groups fighting against mostly Sunni rebel groups, which has, however, been steadfastly denied by both the opposition and the government forces.