Syrian Crackdown Leaves Three Dead, EU Heightens Sanctions

Posted September 23rd, 2011 at 12:03 pm (UTC-5)
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Syrian security forces shot dead at least three civilians Friday, as the European Union slapped new sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Syrian activists say government forces cracked down on thousands of demonstrators who took to the streets around the country after Friday prayers, and that clashes erupted.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government is accusing what it calls “armed terrorists” of the deaths of five security personnel Friday. The state-run SANA news agency reports gunmen fired on a military bus about 100 kilometers south of Damascus.

Also Friday, the European Union slapped new sanctions on the Assad government. EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement that the new sanctions serve to reinforce an earlier ban on Syrian crude oil imports.

The measures also include a ban on the delivery of bank notes to the Syrian central bank, as well as an asset freeze and travel ban on several individuals linked to the Syrian government.

This week several world leaders called on the United Nations Security Council to put greater pressure on President al-Assad's government. U.S. President Barack Obama urged the council to put new sanctions on Syria, during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

On Friday, Amnesty International also put pressure on the U.N. Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

Amnesty said Friday the body of the first woman to have died in Syrian custody since the unrest began has been found. The group estimates that 103 people have been killed in custody since mass protests started in March.

The United Nations estimates that at least 2,700 people have been killed during Syria's sustained assaults on anti-government protests.