EU extends sanctions on Syria regime for another year

A civilian walks past damaged buildings in the rebel-held area of Deraa, Syria on May 24, 2016.
A civilian walks past damaged buildings in the rebel-held area of Deraa, Syria on May 24, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The EU on Friday (May 27) extended for another year sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime over its "violent repression" of civilians, maintaining an oil embargo and a freeze on Syrian central bank assets.

The European Council, which groups the 28-member bloc, rolled over existing sanctions in line with a decision it took in December 2014 to continue sanctions "as long as repression continues," it said in a statement.

"The Council extended EU restrictive measures against the Syrian regime until 1 June 2017," the statement said.

The sanctions include an embargo on Syrian oil, investment restrictions, and a freeze on Syrian central bank assets within the European Union.

They also cover export restrictions on equipment and technology that Damascus could use to repress its people as well as well as equipment and technology it can use to monitor or intercept Internet or telephone calls.

The EU has also imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on more than 200 people and 70 entities over President Bashar al-Assad regime's "violent repression" of Syria's civilians.

The EU said meanwhile it "remains committed to a lasting solution to the conflict in Syria" in cooperation with the 17-nation International Syria Support Group (ISSG) - co-chaired by the US and Russia.

The group has vowed to bolster the shaky ceasefire and send humanitarian relief, but has so far been unable to set a fresh date for negotiations between the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition.

The Syrian conflict erupted in early 2011 when Assad's forces staged a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests, sparking violence that has since claimed more than 270,000 lives.