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More U.S. Sanctions on Syria While Assad Keeps Killing

Assad's forces kill at least seven people after Ramadan. Meanwhile, the U.S. slaps sanctions on Syrian officials.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/31/2011, 2:12 AM

Assad and Obama
Assad and Obama
Israel news photo montage

Syrian security forces killed at least seven people on Tuesday, including a 13-year-old boy, as thousands of protesters poured out of mosques and marched through cemeteries at the start of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

“They can shoot and kill as much as they want, we will not stop calling for regime change,” an activist in Daraa told The Associated Press by telephone.

AP reported that Tuesday’s bloodshed was in the southern province of Daraa, the city of Homs and the capital, Damascus and its suburbs.

Amateur videos posted by activists online showed protesters calling for the downfall of the regime and even the execution of President Bashar Assad.

In the northern province of Idlib, said AP, a few hundred protesters marched with flower wreaths decorated with the Syrian flag and pictures of dead relatives. Many shouted: “Bashar, we don’t want you!”

The Local Coordination Committees, an activist network, told the news agency six protesters were killed in Daraa province and one in Homs.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported of heavy gunfire in the Qaboun district of the capital Damascus.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the United States slapped sanctions on Syria’s foreign minister and two other top officials.

The latest sanctions include asset freezes and bans on business interactions on Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, top presidential advisor Bouthaina Shaaban, and Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali, the U.S. Treasury Department said.

“Building on our sanctions targeting the entire government of Syria, we are bringing additional pressure to bear today directly on three senior Assad regime officials who are principal defenders of the regime's activities,” Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen was quoted by AFP as having said.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland linked the sanctions to “the role that (the three) play in propagating and advancing the reign of terror that Assad is exacting on his own people.”

Nuland said Muallem has “continued to beat this drum of international conspiracy and has attempted to cover up the regime’s horrific activities by making claims that terrorists or others were responsible.”

She added Shaaban “has served as the public mouthpiece for the repression of the regime” and expressed concern that Ali Abdul Karim Ali had maintained “close ties” with Syrian intelligence throughout his diplomatic career and pursued activities in Lebanon that were “not compatible” with his diplomatic status.

Tuesday’s sanctions follow a round of sanctions earlier this month which targeted Syriatel, a mobile phone firm, as well as two banks – the Commercial Bank of Syria and the Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank.

U.S. President Barack Obama called on Assad to resign several weeks ago, after repeatedly stopping short of doing so.

Assad has ignored all calls for him to resign, choosing instead to continue killing his own people and threatening “repercussions” to any country interfering in Syria’s affairs.