EU imposes sanctions on Assad's wife and close relatives
Visa ban and asset freeze measures to take effect Saturday; Syrian rebel commanders reportedly say their ammunition is running out; at least three killed in Friday clashes in Syria.
European Union foreign ministers approved Friday a fresh round of sanctions against Syria, diplomats said, which target the wife, mother, sister and sister-in-law of President Bashar Assad.
The visa ban and asset freeze measures also concern the minister of electricity, the minister for local administration, five junior ministers, one businessman and two companies.
EU companies will also be banned from doing business with 29 entities in Belarus, many of which are owned by Yuri Chizh, one of the two businessmen sanctioned, EU diplomats said.
The sanctions, agreed by EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels, will come into force on Saturday, when the list of targeted people and companies is scheduled to become public.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported on Friday that Syrian rebel commanders and defected soldiers have said that their ammunition has been running out, which may cause the armed rebellion against President Bashar Assad to falter.
Quoting rebel commanders and defected Syrian soldiers, the report said that the Syrian rebels are running out of ammunition due to a shortage of black market supplies and the lack of aid from foreign countries. The rebel commanders say that the armed rebellion against Assad, which has been going strong for over a year, may be waning.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted at the possibility of arming the Syrian rebels, saying that if a political solution to the crisis was impossible the United States might have to consider other options. However thus far, the rebels have been appealing to foreign countries for military interventions and weapons with no results.
“Day after day, the Free Syrian Army keeps fighting and fighting, but day after day, we are running out of ammunition, and, eventually, we just have to leave our area,” a defected soldier told the Washington Post.
First photographic testimony of Syria air force strikes on rebels
Moreover, Syrian troops and opposition rebels clashed Friday near the capital Damascus, activists said, as opposition groups called for nationwide protests against the regime of Assad.
Rebels attacked at dawn an army checkpoint in al-Qaboon, in the suburbs of Damascus, sparking a clash between the two sides and heavy shelling on the nearby area of Arbeen, activist Haytham al-Abdullah told dpa.
“Tanks were seen heading to the region and especially to the area of Harasta, in a move aimed at storming the whole region by [President Bashar] Assad thugs," al-Abdullah said.
The clashes could be heard across the capital since the early hours of the morning, witnesses said.
Using the slogan "Damascus we are coming," opposition websites called for fresh protests across the country.
In the northern province of Idlib, near the Turkish border, similar clashes erupted between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and regular troops in Maaret al-Nouman. At least three people were reported killed.
In Aleppo, government troops shelled the area of Azaz, while in the central province of Homs, the shelling continued on the areas of Bab al-Sibaa and al-Khalidiyeh, activists said.
Meanwhile, the opposition local Coordination Committee (LCC), which documents violence across Syria, said Thursday's death toll had reached 90, with most of the casualties reported in Homs and Idlib.