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EU will adopt harsher Syria sanctions

A ban on commercial flights and importation of minerals, including lucrative phosphates, could come in addition to existing oil restrictions.

Big threeEnlarge
The EU's Big Three: French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti at eysterday's summit in Brussels. (PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty Images)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A European Union official has said the member states plan to enact harsher sanctions on Syria in response to the violent conflict that is sweeping the country, the Associated Press reported.

The proposals include a ban on flights to and from Syria, and a ban on the importation of precious minerals and phosphates. Forty percent of Syria's phosphate output is sold to Europe. The official said the sanctions will be proposed for adoption at the Feb. 27 meeting of EU foreign ministers.

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Bloomberg reported that the financial sanctions will ideally mirror those adopted toward Iran's central bank, "so as not to hobble Syria’s trade completely," though there is still uneven support for some measures, such as the flight ban. 

"We're trying to make things change," a senior EU official said, voicing concern that the violence could last a long time. "We're facing a wall, and we have to find a way of climbing over that wall and moving ahead," AFP reported.

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These sanctions would be in addition to existing EU restrictions on oil importation, visas, and financial transactions of Syrian officials, the AP said.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120208/eu-will-adopt-harsher-syria-sanctions