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EU Imposes New Syria Sanctions

  • RFE/RL

A picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is seen at one of the entrances to the city of Homs in mid-June.

A picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is seen at one of the entrances to the city of Homs in mid-June.

The European Union has imposed fresh sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime over its 15-month-long crackdown on the opposition.

The step came after Syrian armed forces on June 22 shot down a military plane of NATO ally Turkey.

The EU said foreign ministers at a meeting in Luxembourg agreed on sanctions targeting one Syrian individual and six entities.

There were no immediate details on those targeted.

With the additions, a total of 129 individuals and 49 entities in Syria are now subject to EU sanctions.

"What had happened with the jet plane is very dangerous," Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told journalists before the meeting. "This shows a total disrespect for human life. There were two pilots in the plane and to shoot it down without prior warning is something that I think only can happen in a dictatorship."

EU foreign ministers praised Turkey for showing restraint after the plane was shot down.

The Turkish cabinet was expected to meet later on June 25 to discuss how to respond to the jet downing in what Ankara says was international airspace.

Turkey says Syria shot down the Turkish F-4 Phantom jet in international airspace, without warning.

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad al-Makdissi said on June 25 that the Turkish jet had "violated Syrian sovereignty," and Syrian forces were in the right to shoot it down.

NATO ambassadors are due to meet at Turkey's request on June 26 for consultations on the incident.

Turkey has not asked for a NATO military response.

Fresh Defections

Meanwhile, Turkish state-run news media say 33 more members of the Syrian military have defected to Turkey with their families.

The reports say the group includes at least two colonels. There were conflicting reports about whether a general was also among the defectors.

The defecting soldiers and their families are said to number around 220 people.

The Anadolu news agency reported that the group crossed into Turkey overnight on June 24-25.

Turkey is now hosting more than 30,000 Syrian refugees, including defectors from Assad's military.

Reports say that violence in Syria itself continues.

Activists say civilians on June 25 fled parts of the capital, Damascus, due to heavy shelling targeting areas on the outskirts.

Reports from Syria usually cannot be independently verified, as the government has barred most foreign media from reporting in restive areas since the uprising started in March 2011.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, AP, and dpa