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US, Canada tighten sanctions on Syria’s Assad, family

3 military leaders on American blacklist, any US assets frozen.

Assad, family sanctions, US, CanadaEnlarge
A Syrian woman holds a picture of President Bashar al-Assad as other protestors fly Palestinian and pre-Baath Syrian flags during a demonstration to mark Land Day in Damascus today. Canada and the US imposed further sanctions against Assad, his family and military leaders today. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States and Canada imposed stricter economic sanctions today against Syria, President Bashar al-Assad, his wife and family members, news services reported.

The US froze any American assets that might belong to three Syrian military leaders: Defence Minister Dawood Rajiha, deputy chief of staff for the army, Munir Adanov, and Assad’s presidential security chief, Zuhayr Shalish, The Associated Press said.

The Canadian government also included the Syrian Petroleum Co. in sanctions, banned investment in Syrian oil and blocked the importation of Syrian oil products, Reuters reported.

“These latest sanctions target in particular those who profit from their association with the regime and those closest to Assad, including his wife Asma,” a statement from John Baird, Canada’s foreign minister, said. “Canada’s position is clear: Assad must go.”

Along with Assad and his wife, the sanctions include Assad’s mother, sister and sister-in-law, Agence France-Presse said.

By adding eight individuals and another oil company today, Canadian sanctions now include 127 people and 41 groups, AFP said.

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Canada is following the European Union’s lead, which increased its sanctions against last week, AFP said.

“Assad’s family may be kept shielded from the misery of the average Syrian, but they will not be immune from international will,” Baird’s statement read, according to AFP.

About 9,000 people have died since clashes between rebels and the Syrian government began last year.

Asma Assad came under heavy criticism recently when The Guardian newspaper discovered she was shopping online for movies, music and luxury items.

Canada’s sanctions come as 60 international leaders ready to meet in Istanbul to discuss how to stop the violence in Syria, The Associated Press reported.

Further fighting in Syria and widespread protests happened elsewhere in the Middle East today, complicating a UN-sponsored peace initiative.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is in Saudi Arabia, the nation leading the call to arm Syrian rebels, to discuss the situation.

The AP said between 30 and 40 people died in fighting today in Idlib, Homs and even closer to the capital, Damascus.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120330/us-canada-tightens-sanctions-syria-s-assad-family