European Union Extends Sanctions On Syrian Officials
Sanctions against Syria have been extended by the European Union following a further crackdown by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Five more officials from Damascus are now subject to travel bans and have had their assets frozen as the bloodshed in the city of Hama moves towards the end of its second day.
The move comes after an emergency U.N Security Council meeting in New York called for by EU members German and Italy to discuss the worsening crisis. The list of those wanted by the EU in connection with the attack on anti-government protestors now totals 30, and includes President al-Assad.
The sanctions follow reports of fresh attacks on civilians a day after more than 140 people were said to have been killed in a government assault.
Al Jazeera said that troops were continuing to shell Hama for a second day as Muslims begin Ramadan, their month of fasting.
At least four people are reported to have died in the latest assaults, according to the Reuters news agency, after tanks stormed the city of Hama before dawn on Monday.
The Daily Telegraph posted a video of what is believed to show pro-regime troops firing on civilians and smoke from tank assaults.
Al Jazeera also posted video of the latest crackdown, which appeared to show video of government tanks attacking protesters.
Meanwhile, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad praised his troops for "foiling the enemies" of Syria. In a speech to celebrate the 66th anniversary of the Syrian army, Assad was cited by Syrian state media as saying that the military "proved its loyalty to its people, country and creed".
"Its efforts and sacrifices will be admired," he said. "These sacrifices succeeded in foiling the enemies of the country and ending sedition, preserving Syria."
A witness in the oil and gas hub of Deir ez-Zor has also told Al Jazeera that the town was attacked early Monday.
"Military forces stormed the city from the west side and 25 people are killed and more than 65 injured," the witness told the broadcaster. They also reported that artillery and anti-aircraft weapons were being used, and that medical supplies were running low.
Foreign Secretary William Hague ruled out military intervention.
Hague told the Today programme on Radio 4: "It is a very frustrating situation, the levers we have are very limited." He said military action was "not a remote possibility. Even if we were in favour of that.. there is no prospect of a legal, morally sanctioned military intervention."
Hague also indicated Britain would be pushing for greater diplomatic pressure on Damascus, saying: "We do want to see additional sanctions and have agreed a further round of sanctions in the EU which will be announced later this week.
"We will continue working on this today. I would like to see a UN security council resolution to condemn this violence."
"There are nations on the security council opposed to any resolution, so we will revisit that in the coming hours and days."
American president Barack Obama said that he was "appalled" by the violence, and vowed to continue efforts to isolate the Syrian government.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that the violence must stop. "They are accountable under international human rights law for all acts of violence perpetrated by them against the civilian population," he said of the Syrian authorities.
Human rights groups have put the death toll from Sunday's violence at more than 140 people. Independent verification of the numbers is difficult as foreign reporters are unable to move freely throughout the country.
The global protest organisation Avaaz has published details of 3,000 Syrian people who they say have 'disappeared' since anti-government protests began.