Bashar Assad
Bashar AssadIsrael news photo: Arutz 7

The European Union announced on Monday that it would be imposing an arms embargo on Syria, The Associated Press reported.

In a statement, the EU said that it is banning shipments to Syria of “arms and equipment that could be used for internal repression.”

The statement also noted that the EU will be prohibiting 13 Syrian “officials and associates of the Syrian regime” from traveling anywhere within the EU and would be freezing their assets. The 13 have been identified as being responsible for the violent repression against the civilian protests in the country.

While the names of the officials sanctioned were not made public and will not be published until Thursday, the report noted that an EU official said late last week that Syrian President Bashar Assad would not be among those sanctioned.

EU envoys recommended the visa ban and assets freeze Friday, said AP, but Monday’s decision by all member governments was required for formal approval.

The report noted that the United States has also imposed sanctions on Syria in an attempt to increase the pressure on Assad's regime. Those penalties target three senior Syrian officials, as well as Syria’s intelligence agency and the Revolutionary Guard in Iran.

Yet despite these sanctions, the U.S. has remained silent on Assad and has refrained from calling on him to step down. This is in contrast to President Barack Obama’s reaction during the riots in Egypt and in Libya. In both cases he called on Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Qaddafi to step down.

Monday’s announcement by the EU comes after another bloody day of protests in Syria. According to reports, Assad’s security forces shot and killed at least four women protesters and a 12-year-old child in a continuing show of brute force against the protesters.

Eyewitnesses reported of tanks roaring through the streets of Homs and helicopters hovering overheard, as the intensity of the protest movement extended beyond the cities of Deraa and Banyas. Assad’s secret police have also rounded up hundreds of people in central Damascus, where demonstrators also have taken to the streets.

According to human rights groups, more than 600 people have been gunned down until now by Syrian forces and up to 10,000 have been arrested.

Meanwhile, AP brought comments from Assad himself, who was quoted as saying in the daily paper Al-Watan that “the current crisis in Syria will be overcome and that the process of administrative, political and media reforms are continuing.”