EU targets Syrian bank, toughens sanctions


The European Union toughened its sanctions against Syria placing restrictions on a Syrian bank, an oil company and a government spokeswoman.

The 16th round of sanctions against Syria are part of EU efforts to pressure President Bashar al-Assad into ending his violent repression of a 15-month-old uprising against his rule.

In Tuesday’s move the European Union added the Syria International Islamic Bank (SIIB) and Syria’s national oil transport company to its list of targeted groups, according to its official journal, where EU laws are published, Reuters reports.
“From 2011 to 2012, SIIB surreptitiously facilitated financing of 150 million dollars on behalf of the Commercial Bank of Syria,” the EU announcement said.

The bank has 20 branches and three offices in Syria and has already been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury, which has accused the bank of helping Syria’s state-owned Commercial Bank to evade U.S. counter-proliferation sanctions.

The bloc also added a travel ban against Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Assad who has served as a government spokeswoman.

A number of Syrian government bodies were also named in the sanctions list, including the defence and interior ministries, the national security bureau and the national radio and television corporation.

Syrian security forces have killed at least 10,000 people, by a U.N. count, while Syria says 2,600 military and security force personnel have been killed by what it calls foreign-backed “Islamist terrorists.”