EU targets Iran's elite unit in Syria sanctions

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The Independent Online

The European Union yesterday imposed sanctions against the elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, saying the Quds Force is providing equipment and other support to help the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, crush the five-month-old uprising against him.

The sanctions broadened the international pressure against Syria by directly targeting its key ally Iran. The EU's official journal said the Quds Force "has provided technical assistance, equipment and support to the Syrian security services to repress civilian protest movements". Other new targets include several Syrian generals and close associates of Mr Assad's younger brother, Maher, who is believed to be in command of much of the crackdown. The EU blacklist on Syria now contains 50 people and nine entities who face asset freezes and travel bans as punishment for one of the deadliest government crackdowns of the Arab Spring.

Syria is already under broad sanctions from the US and European countries, but the French foreign ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, called for stronger sanctions. "France is determined more than ever to do everything to stop Syrian blood from being spilled," Mr Valero said.

Despite the threat, the crackdown goes on. Tanks stormed Deir el-Zour city and made arrests yesterday, claim Syrian activists. Human rights groups report Mr Assad's forces have killed 2,000 people since the uprising began in March.