Canada imposes new sanctions against Assad regime

AP News
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Posted: Dec 23, 2011 12:19 PM
Canada imposes new sanctions against Assad regime

Canada said Friday it is imposing new sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and criticized the United Nations for not doing more about the "disgusting" violence there.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada is freezing Syrian government assets, blocking Syrian imports except food and banning new investment in Syria.

"Assad is cut off," Baird told a news conference. "His disgusting brand of violence must stop. He must go."

Baird said despite the escalating violence in the crackdown on protests against the regime, countries can't even get a resolution out of the UN Security Council condemning the violence, much less sanctions in the face of what he called clear human rights violations.

"The United Nations has been unable to act," Baird said. "That is not a good day for the Security Council."

Canada's announcement comes after twin suicide car bomb blasts ripped through an upscale Damascus district Friday, killing at least 40 people. Syrian government officials took newly arrived Arab League observers to the scene and said it supported their longtime claims that the turmoil is not a popular uprising but the work of terrorists.

"If it wasn't so serious it would almost be comical," Baird said. "I'm reminded of President Assad's interview with Barbara Walters where he denied any violence was taking place with the Syrian people, that his hands were clean. It was reminiscent of the tobacco executive in the 1970s or '80s trying to deny there's any link between tobacco and cancer."

The United Nations sharply raised its death toll earlier this month for the nine-month uprising against the regime, saying more than 5,000 people have been killed.

Canada initially imposed sanctions against the Syrian regime in May and has continued to increase restrictions against the government. The United States, European Union and Arab League have also imposed restrictions against Assad's leadership to punish his regime for its crackdown that has mostly targeted unarmed, peaceful protesters.

Earlier this month, Canada asked its 5,000 citizens in Syria to leave after the Arab League reduced commercial flights to and from Damascus by about 50 percent.