Arab League Approves Sanctions Against Syria

Posted November 27th, 2011 at 3:25 pm (UTC-5)
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The Arab League has approved unprecedented sanctions against Syria in response to the Syrian government's deadly crackdown on an opposition uprising.

Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim told reporters in Cairo Sunday that 19 of the 22 Arab League member nations approved the sanctions. Iraq and Lebanon abstained.

The measures include halting transactions with Syria's central bank, imposing a travel ban on top Syrian officials and stopping investments for projects in Syria.

The sanctions approval is a blow for Syria, which has long prided itself as a bastion of Arab nationalism. The Associated Press says Damascus protested the Arab League's vote to impose sanctions, calling it a “betrayal.”

Hundreds of Syrians gathered in a main square in the capital, Damascus, to protest the Arab League move.

Arab League sanctions add to the pressure on the Syrian economy that U.S. and European Union sanctions have had on exports of Syrian oil and other products.

Arab officials proposed the sanctions after Syria refused to accept a Friday deadline they set to allow league observers into the country to monitor the government's response to the uprising. Syria instead asked the league for clarifications of the observers' mission.

Rights groups say Syrian forces killed at least 23 people across the country on Sunday.

They also say security forces killed at least 27 civilians in crackdowns on protest hubs on Saturday, with most of the fatalities in the central province of Homs. Syrian state news agency SANA said 25 security personnel were buried Saturday after being killed by what it calls “armed terrorists” in the Damascus countryside and the regions of Homs and Hama.

There was no independent confirmation of the casualties because Syria bars most foreign journalists from operating in the country.

Syrian army defectors known as the Free Syrian Army have carried out increasingly deadly attacks on government forces in recent weeks, militarizing what had previously been a largely peaceful movement calling for an end to President Assad's 11-year autocratic rule.

The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have been killed since March in connection with the uprising.