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European Union states agreed on Tuesday to extend sanctions against Syria to four military-linked firms and more people connected with the violent suppression of anti-government protests, an EU diplomat said.

Lists prepared by Britain and France proposed adding fewer than a dozen individuals and entities to those already targeted by asset freezes and visa bans, the diplomat said.

The British list also proposed sanctions against at least two Iranian individuals involved in providing equipment and support for the suppression of dissent in Syria, but one of the 27 member states had yet to approve this, the diplomat said.

“The French list was approved in full, but there was a reserve on the British list by one member state,” the diplomat said.

The full list would be approved if no formal objection was raised by 0800 GMT on Wednesday, the diplomat said.

The diplomat declined to name the entities or individuals, but said they were not in Syria’s oil industry.

“They are all linked to the military and the suppression of dissent,” said the diplomat, who did not want to be otherwise identified.

The move followed a speech by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier in the week that opponents said did not meet popular demands for sweeping political change.

In May the European Union added Assad and other senior officials to a list of those banned from traveling to the EU and subject to asset freezes.

Under mounting international pressure and facing wider street protests despite a military crackdown that has killed more than 1,300 people, Assad promised reforms within months to address a wave of protests against his rule.

In his speech, he had said “saboteurs” among the protesters were serving a foreign conspiracy to sow chaos.

The EU said it condemned “in the strongest terms the worsening violence in Syria.”

While calling on demonstrators to maintain the peaceful nature of their protests, the EU urged the Syrian authorities to launch a national dialogue and meaningful political reforms.

Reuters

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