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Syria's civil war

Swiss expand sanctions against Assad’s entourage

The city of Homs was devastated as Syrian government forces retook control in May 2014 after a three-year battle (Keystone)

The city of Homs was devastated as Syrian government forces retook control in May 2014 after a three-year battle


Switzerland is imposing asset freezes and travel bans on a dozen more Syrian government officials, accusing them of being partly responsible for the regime’s violent repression against the civilian population.

Tuesday’s announcement comes several weeks after that of the European Union because the measures need to be adapted in consultation with the government, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs spokeswoman Marie Avet told

The European Union had sanctioned the same 12 Syrian ministers on June 23. A month later, on July 23, the EU added three people and nine companies to its sanctions list. At the time, it froze assets of branches of the Syrian Defence Ministry and of two oil-trading firms accused of organising covert shipments of oil to Syria.

Switzerland’s announcement regarding the EU’s July decision will follow in a few weeks’ time, Avet said, adding that in the case of Syria, Switzerland updates its sanction lists exactly in line with the EU.

In the case of other sanctions against other countries including Iran or Russia, Switzerland has decided to go its own way. As it is not a member of the EU, Switzerland’s decision takes into account foreign policy considerations. But as a member of the United Nations, it is obliged to implement all UN sanctions, Avet explained.

The Swiss cabinet on May 18, 2011 first announced sanctions against Syria. In June 2012, Switzerland had tightened its measures after the situation had increasingly deteriorated for civilians.

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been blacklisted by Western powers for its role in the country’s three-year civil war, which has killed at least 150,000 people, according to one monitoring group. The EU lists 192 people and 62 organisations in Assad’s entourage. and agencies