EU slaps sanctions on Assad's wife, relatives

AP News
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Posted: Mar 23, 2012 6:03 AM
EU slaps sanctions on Assad's wife, relatives

Officials say that the EU foreign ministers have slapped sanctions on the wife and other close relatives of Syrian President Bashar Assad in a continuing attempt to stop the violent crackdown on opposition.

They said four members of the Assad family and eight government ministers have been targeted in the latest round of sanctions. All three officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision will be announced later Friday following the foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.

Asma Assad, 36, was born in London and has British citizenship, and an EU official said that likely meant she could not be banned from travel to the U.K.

The U.N. estimates that more than 8,000 people have been killed since an uprising began in Syria a year ago.

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Raf Casert contributed to this report.

Follow Don Melvin on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Don_Melvin

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BRUSSELS (AP) _ The wife of Syrian President Bashar Assad will be hit with a travel ban and have her assets in the EU frozen, a European Union official said Friday.

A total of four members of the Assad family, along with eight government ministers, will be targeted in the latest round of sanctions aimed at stopping the violent crackdown on members of the Syrian opposition, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision that will be taken later Friday by EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

Asma Assad, 36, was born in London and has British citizenship, and the EU official said that likely meant she could not be banned from travel to the U.K.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was very important to increase pressure on the Syrian regime.

"Their behavior continues to be murdering and totally unacceptable in the eyes of the world," he said on his way into the meeting.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said the sanctions should target "the family of Assad _ his wife and his closest relatives. It is necessary."

Last week, Britain's The Guardian newspaper released thousands of emails purportedly from Bashar Assad's private account. They showed him taking advice from Iran on how to handle the uprising, joking about his promises of reform and bypassing U.S. sanctions to shop on iTunes.

The U.N. estimates that more than 8,000 people have been killed since the uprising began a year ago in a cycle of attack and reprisal.

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Raf Casert contributed to this report.

Follow Don Melvin on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Don_Melvin