Foreign Secretary William Hague today welcomed more EU sanctions against Syria in protest at the failure of President Assad to end "horrific violence".
After approving the extension of European travel and financial restrictions to another 18 members of the regime's inner circle, Mr Hague said: "President Assad has ignored countless calls by the international community to put an end to the horrific violence in Syria.
"Since the Syrian regime's claim to have agreed to the plan put forward by the Arab League on November 2, violence has only escalated with a death toll of over 3,500 people since March."
Mr Hague added: "As long as the violence continues, we will continue to press the Syrian regime to bring an end to this killing."
The 18 individuals added to a current list of 56 already targeted for European travel and visa bans and the freezing of any assets held in the EU, were not named today.
But they include security, military and intelligence officials known to be involved in or actively supporting the regime's activities.
Mr Hague and his EU counterparts also agreed to halt loans to Syria from the European Investment Bank in a bid to further squeeze President Assad, whose country has received nearly £1.5bn from the EIB since 1978 to aid major infrastructure projects, crucially in its energy sector.
The move follows what Mr Hague hailed as "strong measures" announced by the Arab League to suspend Syria's League membership, and the public call from Jordan's King Abdullah to President Assad to resign.
In a statement the EU foreign ministers expressed deep concern about the deteriorating situation in Syria and condemned "the ongoing brutal repression and widespread human rights violations".
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies