The European Union questioned on Friday the legitimacy of the Syrian regime and imposed sanctions on three commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, accusing them of aiding the crackdown in Syria, the EU’s Official Journal showed on Friday.
In a draft declaration to be formally adopted at a summit later Friday, the European Union “condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing repression and unacceptable and shocking violence the Syrian regime continues to apply against its own citizens.”
“By choosing a path of repression instead of fulfilling its own promises on broad reforms, the regime is calling its legitimacy into question,” the draft says. “Those responsible for crimes and violence against civilians shall be held accountable.”
The European Union, meanwhile, imposed sanctions on three commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, including its chief Mohammad Ali Jafari, for their alleged role in the crackdown on Syrian protesters.
Friday’s declaration came two days after EU states reached a political agreement to extend sanctions against Syria to four military-linked entities and seven individuals, including the three Iranians, linked to suppression of dissent.
In May, the European Union added Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and other senior officials to a list of Syrians banned from travelling to the EU and subject to asset freezes.
The Iranians are accused of “providing military equipment and support to help the regime suppress protests in Syria,” an EU diplomat had said on condition of anonymity.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem denied last Wednesday that Syria had received any assistance from ally Iran or Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah in putting down the protests.
He also said Syria regarded EU sanctions as a “war” against Damascus.
EU foreign ministers had vowed during a meeting on Monday to beef up the sanctions on Syria as they cast doubt on Mr. Assad’s latest offer of change, with Britain saying he should “reform or step aside.”
At the same time, several European nations have joined Washington in pushing for a UN Security Council resolution condemning the crackdown, but Russia has warned it would veto such a move.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said this week it was vital for the UN Security Council “to express the outrage of the world.”
“The silence of the Security Council until now can be seen as an indirect tolerance of what is going on in Syria and that is unacceptable,” he said.
German counterpart Guido Westerwelle Moscow’s UN position “goes in the wrong direction.”
More than 1,300 civilians have been killed and some 10,000 people arrested, according to Syrian rights groups, in the crackdown that has seen troops dispatched to crush revolt in cities across the Middle Eastern country.
(Mustapha Ajbaili, a senior editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at Mustapha.email@example.com)