2nd Jun 2020

EU to toughen sanctions after Syria bloodbath

  • President Bashar al-Assad sent in tanks to crush protests in the central Syrian city of Hama (Photo: Travel Aficionado)

The EU is likely to toughen sanctions against the Syrian regime after some 100 people were reportedly killed in the city of Hama when government tanks stormed in on Sunday (31 July), crushing protests in the five-month-long stand-off with President Bashar Assad.

"I am shocked at the latest reports from Syria that large numbers of civilians have again been killed in a totally unjustified assault by Syrian security forces on the town of Hama, using tanks and other heavy weapons against citizens exercising their right to peaceful protest," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Condemning the killing which took place on the eve of the holy month of Ramadam, Ashton said that the actions "once again show the hollowness of the promises of reform made by the government" and urged Assad's government to engage in a real dialogue with opposition.

Germany has requested that the UN Security Council meets on Monday to discuss the situation. Punitive measures have so far been put in place at EU and US level only.

The UN Security Council - made up of 15 permanent and rotating members - has so far failed to agree even a resolution condemning the Syrian crackdown because Russia and China - both allies of Damascus - have threatened to veto it.

Brazil, India and South Africa have also indicated they do not support the draft French and UK text for fear it may lead to another military intervention as in Libya.

Meanwhile, the EU is likely to toughen sanctions against the Assad regime by blacklisting five further people from his entourage. The EU has already banned some 20 people from travelling or doing business with member states, including a dozen firms linked to the Syrian army.

The EU sanctions and US similar US measures have so far had little impact, however.

According to the Syrian National Organisation of Human Rights, the Sunday offensive is one of the deadliest since protests began in March, with more than 100 people killed by armoured units which overran makeshift barricades in the town of Hama.

The government said its actions were aimed at "protecting" the population from "armed gangs" vandalising public and private property in the city, the site of even greater atrocities under Assad's father.

"It's a massacre. They want to break Hama before the month of Ramadan," an eyewitness who identified himself as Ahmed, told the Associated Press by telephone.

Unlike in Libya, Syria has not seen mass defections from the army, with only few soldiers refusing to execute civilians, Al-Arabiya TV has reported.

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens to use army to crush unrest in US
  2. Trump wants Russia back in G7-type group
  3. Iran: Fears of second wave as corona numbers rise again
  4. WHO: Overuse of antibiotics to strengthen bacterial resistance
  5. Orban calls EU Commission recovery plan 'absurd'
  6. ABBA's Björn new president of authors' rights federation
  7. Malta and Libya to create anti-migrant 'units'
  8. France reopening bars and parks next week


Is Russia manipulating food supplies during pandemic?

Russia already dominates global oil – letting them dominate global food during a pandemic would spell disaster for the EU. It would effectively mean the EU, not just depending on Russian energy, but increasingly also on Russian food supply.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Malta fiddles on migrants, as Libya burns
  2. Borrell: EU doesn't need to choose between US and China
  3. Post-Brexit and summer travel talks This WEEK
  4. State-level espionage on EU tagged as 'Very High Threat'
  5. Beethoven vs Virus: How his birthplace Bonn is coping
  6. EU's new migration pact must protect people on the move
  7. Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income
  8. Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us