Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The EU adopted the first package of sanctions against Syria

The European Union yesterday approved a first set of sanctions against Syria, including the arms embargo and materials used for repression as well as asset freezes and visa bans for 13 officials of the regime in Damascus. The list is not included, however, the Syrian president, Efe reported. The UN also expressed concern yesterday about the situation in Syria.

The UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, said he hoped that an international body's humanitarian mission this week to gain access to the city of Dera, after the Government could stop him Sunday. For the president, Bashar Assad, the riots that shook the country are a matter of days.

"This crisis will pass and continue with administrative reforms, policies and information," said Asad. The message that the end of the revolt is coming is released in recent days by news of the scheme, the only one in the country. The Damascus government has proven it can suppress the protests with all its military force, given the absence of real international pressure and instructed the army and secret services a punitive operation against the areas "rebels": places like Deraa, Banias Homs and Damascus and several suburbs are patrolled by tanks and suffer massive raids.

Bashar Assad wants to drown in blood the protests, as did his father, President Hafez al-Assad, with the Islamist insurgency in 1982. It is not clear, however, the nature of the revolt against it faces. The government says it has killed at least 100 police and soldiers since mid-March, and human rights organizations seeking to bring the accounting of civilian deaths (between 600 and 700) now recognize that the death toll among law enforcement Security is more or less correct.

Activists who disseminate information abroad have been saying that soldiers and policemen died at the hands of their partners, for refusing to fire on the crowd. But that version is belied by the families of the deceased. Given the information blockade imposed by Bashar Assad, to prevent journalists from entering the country, it is not possible to verify with the peaceful protesters demanding more freedom act, as the government, armed Islamist bands.

The Syrian press yesterday released images of a minibus in which, according to the official, 10 workers died strafed by one of those bands. The truth of this crisis will soon be known. Even the version of the activists involved in organizing demonstrations against the regime becomes blurred.

According to The New York Times, the Syrian regime has received technical help from its Iranian allies to locate satellite phones used by activists to deliver data to the foreign films, and is strangling the sources of information, although they were the only partial existing. The massive raids have also served to dry the information to foreign countries and to hinder the coordination of opposition movements.

The channels are still open opponents said yesterday stepped up house by house arrest, with military operations across the country. Security forces and intelligence services acted especially Deraa around (the city itself had already undergone 11 days of military occupation with hundreds of arrests) in Homs, Banias and in several suburbs of Damascus where, according Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, bursts of gunfire were heard.

The police action was backed by armored vehicles and was preceded, as on other occasions, by sealing off urban areas and the removal of telephone services. The same Abdul-Rahman said that dozens of women demonstrated at noon at Banias to demand the release of the men arrested at the local stadium, and that an army officer told the protesters that those over 40 years would return "soon" home.

Banias, a coastal city with strong Sunni (the majority religious group in the country and the most dissatisfied with the roast, which is based on Alawi minorities such as Shiites and Christians), was taken militarily between Friday and Saturday, and an estimated 250 people remain held in police stations and the stadium.

Among those arrested Firas Khaddam, a nephew of former Vice President Abdul-Halim Khaddam, in exile since 2005 and accused by the government to promote and finance the rebellion.

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