European Union expands sanctions on Syria for 'brutal war' against its own people

LUXEMBOURG (AFP) - European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to expand sanctions against Syria, adding 16 names and two entities to the blacklist for their role in a "brutal war" against their own people.

The move targeted 14 individuals with asset freezes and travel bans for taking part in "the violent repression of the civilian population", a statement said.

Another two people and two entities were punished for "providing practical support" to President Bashar al-Assad, it said.

The names of those affected will be published in the EU's Official Journal on Tuesday when the measures also take effect.

Diplomatic sources said earlier the new sanctions mainly affected officials recently appointed by Assad.

Monday's announcement brings the total number of Syrians under EU sanctions to 211 and the number of entities to 63, the statement said.

The foreign ministers additionally recommended that the EU ban exports of jet fuel to Syria because it was being used by Assad's airforce to launch "indiscriminate air attacks against civilians." This political agreement will come into effect after approval by EU leaders.

The EU separately maintains an oil embargo on Syria and curbs on financial transactions with the country.

The United Nations estimates that more than 191,000 people have died in Syria since a 2011 popular uprising against Assad turned into a bloody sectarian conflict which has also displaced millions and destroyed much of the country.