Syria crisis: EU sanctions on Asma al-Assad

Foreign Secretary William Hague said Asma al-Assad is not likely to re-enter the UK.

EU foreign ministers have imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on the British-born wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other family members.

Asma al-Assad is among 12 people added to the sanctions list, which already includes her husband.

The ban cannot stop her from travelling to the UK, British officials say.

Anti-government activists accuse the regime of killing thousands of protesters over the past year.

In recent weeks, the Damascus government has stepped up its efforts to crush pockets of rebellion in cities including Homs and Hama.

Every day, activists report dozens of deaths and more protests.

Window-dressing

The envoy for the UN and the Arab League, Kofi Annan, is to travel to Moscow and Beijing this weekend for talks on the crisis, his office said.

Sanctions on Syria

  • EU: Travel bans and asset freezes on President Assad and senior officials; ban on sales of arms and telecommunications monitoring equipment; restrictions on banking and financial services; ban on imports of Syrian oil
  • Arab League: Travel ban on senior officials; freeze on Syrian government assets in Arab countries; end to dealings with the Syrian central bank; suspension of commercial flights to and from Syria; halting investment by Arab governments for projects in Syria
  • US: Lists Syria as a "state sponsor of terrorism", triggering automatic bans on most transactions with Syria, save exports of humanitarian aid; travel bans and asset freezes on President Assad and other senior figures; ban on imports of Syrian oil
  • Turkey: Travel ban and asset freeze on senior government officials; financial dealings with Syrian state banks stopped; ban on arms sales

Russia and China have vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions on Syria for fear that intervention could lead to regime change, as happened in Libya last year.

Mr Assad has promised political reform, but observers and his opponents have dismissed his plans as window-dressing.

The latest round of EU sanctions has added Mrs Assad, as well as Mr Assad's mother, sister and sister-in-law.

"With this new listing we are striking at the heart of the Assad clan, sending out a loud and clear message to Mr Assad: he should step down," Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said, quoted by Reuters news agency.

The BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels says for years there was a perception that Mrs Assad's Western upbringing could encourage reform in Syria.

The 36-year-old, who is of Syrian descent, was born in the UK and spent much of her life in west London. The UK Border Agency has confirmed that Mrs Assad is British.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he did not think Mrs Assad would be travelling to the UK any time soon.

"British nationals, British passport holders do obviously have a right of entry to the United Kingdom," he said.

"But given that we are imposing an asset freeze on all of these individuals, and a travel ban on other members of the same family and the regime, we're not expecting Mrs Assad to try to travel to the United Kingdom at the moment," he said.

Mrs Assad, who worked as an investment banker in the City of London before her marriage in 2000, has generally played a low-key role in the regime.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley looks at Asma Assad's UK roots

However, in February she wrote to Britain's Times newspaper to explain why she thought her husband was still the right man to lead Syria.

The EU already has extensive sanctions in place against Syria. These include a ban on arms sales and imports of Syrian oil.

Last week activists released some 3,000 emails they said were from private accounts belonging to Mr Assad and his wife.

The messages, which have not been independently verified, suggested Mrs Assad continued to shop online for luxury goods even after the uprising was in full swing.

The UN says at least 8,000 people have died since the uprising against Mr Assad's regime began in March 2011.

The president and his allies say terrorist and armed gangs are behind the violence, and say hundreds of security personnel have been killed fighting them.

More on This Story

Syria conflict

More Europe stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.