World pressure grows on Syria

Members of the Syrian opposition living in Turkey  protest against the Syrian regime in Ankara on September 19, 2011.

Story highlights

  • 13 reported dead across Syria on Friday
  • The European Union imposes more sanctions on Syria
  • A U.N. body renews its call for International Criminal Court involvement
  • Demonstrations across Syria continue Friday
World pressure against the Syrian regime intensified Friday with imposition of more international sanctions and a renewed call by a U.N. body to bring in the International Criminal Court.
In Syria itself, it was another Friday of nationwide protests against the regime, dubbed the Opposition Unity protests. For more than half a year, Syrian forces have cracked down hard on anti-government demonstrations, a show of force widely denounced inside and outside the country that by some accounts has left around 3,000 people dead.
The European Union announced Friday that it is imposing additional sanctions against Syria, due to "the continuing brutal campaign" by the government against its own people.
The new sanctions include a ban on investments in the Syrian oil sector. Earlier this month, the EU imposed a ban on the import of Syrian oil. The move also "foresees a prohibition on the delivery of banknotes to the Syrian Central Bank" and designating more people and entities as being responsible for supporting "repression" in Syria. Those so designated are subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze.
In addition, the Swiss government's website said it toughened sanctions against Syria, including the banning of import and transport of Syrian oil and gasoline products. "Thus Switzerland joins measures which the EU imposed against Syria."
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An activist group called Change.org has launched a campaign to urge Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to impose targeted sanctions on Syria. A Turkish citizen who lives near the Syrian border launched the campaign amid the recent deaths of Syrian citizens.
The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday it is "extremely alarmed" by reports of what it calls "an increasingly brutal crackdown." It also says "prominent human rights defenders, inside and outside the country, are reported to have been targeted."
The office said it is "critical that the Security Council consider referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court" and urged Syria to end its clampdown on protesters.
"We are also concerned by reports of the targeting and attacking of families and sympathizers of the protestors by security forces. In one recent appalling case, the mutilated body of Zeinab al-Hosni, an 18-year-old woman from Homs who had been tortured and died in custody was discovered by her family on 13 September. We have received unconfirmed reports that she had been abducted by members of the security forces on 27 July, apparently to pressure her activist brother to turn himself in," the office said.
The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an activist group, reported 13 deaths in Syria on Friday, including that of a 5-year-old child, amid demonstrations by opposition protesters and offensives led by Syrian security forces.