Assad Approves 30% Tax on Turkish Goods Entering Syria

Move comes as ties between the one-time allies continue to deteriorate as Damascus continues a brutal crackdown of pro-democracy protests.

Syrian President Bashar Assad authorized a new and hefty tax on Turkish goods on Wednesday, in an apparent slight to the country's neighbor to the north over its criticism of Damascus' brutal protest crackdown.

The measure, which follows Syria's decision to cancel a 2004 free trade agreement with Ankara, was announced by the official Syria news agency SANA, which stated that "law No. 28" imposed "a 30% fee on all the goods and materials imported from Turkey to Syria for supporting the reconstruction of the developing villages."

Bashar Assad - AP - 2/12/2011

The move, which follows, adds pressure on the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad to end its deadly crackdown on dissidents.

Turkey, which has been highly critical of Assad's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, announced on November 30 a ban on transactions with the Syrian government and its central bank, prompting Damascus to cancel the free trade agreement.

The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions and called on Assad to step down.

In the latest sign of the heavy economic price Syria is paying for its repression of dissent, Turkey said earlier this month that Damascus would lose more than $100 million a year in transport revenue as Ankara bypasses the turbulent country by opening alternative export routes to the Middle East and Gulf.