A torn poster of Bashar al-Assad on a wall in central Damascus (File)
The European Union has extended sanctions against Syria’s Assad regime for another year.
The European Council announced the extension to June 1, 2021, as “the repression of the civilian population continues”.
The Council explained:
The Syrian people have had to draw on extraordinary reserves of resilience in the course of the conflict. The EU’s sanctions target those responsible for their suffering, members of the Syrian regime, their supporters and businesspersons who finance it and benefit from the war economy.
The EU is determined to continue its support to the Syrian people and remains committed to use every tool at its disposal to push for a political solution to the conflict that would benefit all Syrians and put an end to the ongoing repression.
There are 273 people and 70 entities on the list. Measures include an assets freeze and a travel ban.
The sanctions were introduced in 2011, as the regime’s security forces tried to quell protests which grew to millions of Syrians.
The regime has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and displaced millions in the nine-year conflict. Tens of thousands have been executed, tortured to death, or perished from inhumane conditions in regime prisons.
The EU bans the regime’s import of oil, restricts certain investments, freezes the Syrian Central Bank’s assets, and restricts exports of equipment and technology that might be used for internal repression and surveillance.
Food, medicines, medical equipment, and humanitarian supplies are exempt from the sanctions.
The regime is facing economic crisis after a 75% loss of GDP during the conflict. Prices are soaring, the currency has lost 70% of its value since last autumn, and there are widespread shortages of fuel and cooking gas.. Electricity is frequently cut off.