EU renews Syria sanctions with conflict in its 10th year

BRUSSELS (AP) – The European Union is extending its sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad and other political officials, military officials and businessmen for a further regime crackdown on civilians in the country devastated by the conflict for another year.

The European Council, home to the 27 EU countries, said in a statement Thursday that sanctions will be extended until June 1, 2021, more than a decade after the start of the conflict, "as the repression of the civilian population continues" .

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"The Syrian people had to resort to extraordinary resilience reserves," said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, and added that the bloc "remains committed to using all the tools at its disposal to seek a political solution to the conflict that would bring problems ". benefit all Syrians and end the ongoing repression. "

The Syrian conflict is now in its tenth year. The United Nations says that more than half of the population has been forced to flee their homes, more than 11 million people – almost 5 million of them children – need humanitarian assistance and almost eight million people lack reliable access to food.

Eight out of ten Syrians live below the poverty line, earning less than $ 100 a month, and the country is mired in an economic crisis. The Syrian currency has fallen downward, raising the prices of basic commodities. Economic activity is also being hampered by restrictions imposed on combating the coronavirus.

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The EU first imposed its sanctions in May 2011. They include travel bans, asset freezes and measures aimed at operations such as oil imports, certain investments and the trade in equipment that could be used for any crackdown on civilians. .

The sanctions list now includes 273 people, including members of Assad's family, close and senior military members and 70 "entities", such as organizations and companies. The EU says the measures are designed to avoid hampering the delivery of humanitarian aid. No food or medical equipment is targeted.

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