EU Imposes Oil Embargo on Syria
Syria's main trading partner, the European Union (EU), has imposed an oil embargo on Damascus, affecting some 92 percent of Syrian exports to Europe.
The 27 member states of the EU voted last Tuesday to impose the ban hoping to persuade President Bashar al-Assad to halt the brutal government crackdown on civilian protesters in the country.
The EU ban, which spans the purchase, import and transport of oil and other petroleum products from Syria went into effect Saturday, but existing contracts are valid until November 15, according to the Chinese Xinhua news agency.
President Bashar al-Assad and other leading government figures are already blacklisted in Europe, banned from travel and their assets frozen. The list was extended last week by 15 other people, and an additional five firms.
At least 2,200 Syrians have died in the violence over the past six months.
The United States has already imposed sanctions in the form of an oil embargo and financial restrictions on the Assad regime.
However, an oil embargo imposed by Europe is likely to wield a much more powerful wallop, since the vast majority of Syrian business is tied up in energy products.
Last year Syria exported some 3.1 billion euros' worth of crude oil and petroleum products to the EU. Royal Dutch Shell and the French firm “Total” are the two biggest players in the Syrian energy market.