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Syria, Iran and Belarus hit with EU sanctions

Syria, Iran and Belarus hit with EU sanctions
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The European Union has hit Syria’s leadership with sanctions in a bid to end the on-going brutal crackdown against anti-government protests.

Hundreds of protesters rallied in Brussels against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad as EU foreign ministers met.

The restrictions should see a travel ban and asset freezes for Assad and his entourage.

Britain’s foreign secretary added to calls for reform.

“The repression in Syria continues, and it is important to see the right to peaceful protest, the release of political prisoners and taking the path of reform not repression in Syria over the coming days and weeks,” said William Hague.

At least 900 people are estimated to have died in violence against pro-democracy demonstrators in Syria in recent weeks.

The latest measures expand sanctions imposed against Assad’s government earlier this month.

Some EU heads also backed demands for an urgent meeting of the Middle East Quartet to discuss US President Barack Obama’s recent call for a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians based on the 1967 borders.

In addition to Syria, ministers also agreed to extend sanctions against Iran, reflecting what seems to be mounting frustration over a lack of progress in nuclear talks with Tehran. More than 100 companies and individuals were added to the EU’s Iranian blacklist.

Belarus was also hit with tougher sanctions. Foreign ministers approved the extension of asset freezes and travel bans to 13 more senior officials after the jailing of several opposition figures.