On Friday (6 March), the European Union imposed a new batch of sanctions against Syria, targeting the aides of President Bashar al-Assad. The civil war, which has so far claimed about 220,000 lives, according to the United Nations, shows no prospects of a peace deal. The EU said in an official statement that the additional sanctions targeted “seven persons and six entities providing support to the Syrian regime as well as benefitting from it”. This brings the total number of individuals and entities targeted by Brussels over the Syrian conflict to 218 persons and 69 entities. Those on the list are banned from entry to the EU and their assets within the Union are frozen.
The updated blacklist newly includes George Haswani, the owner of HESCO engineering company, who is known as a “middleman” for oil deals between ISIL and President al-Assad’s regime. Blacklisting Mr Haswani also sheds more light on the financial ties between the Syrian regime and the Islamic State amidst rising concerns that Syria is not only buying oil from ISIL, but it is also helping operate the terrorist movement’s oil and gas facilities.
The extension of the blacklist follows the EU’s December decision to “continue imposing and enforcing sanctions that target the regime and its supporters as long as repression continues”. The 28-country block has moreover pledged to continue to support efforts for a political settlement that would lead to the resignation of President Assad. Some EU Member States have, however, called for a dialogue with the Syrian regime, which also fights the Islamic State. Yet, EU’s major powers – France and Great Britain – are against the restoration of relations with Damascus.