Arab League places 17 top officials in Syria on travel ban list


BEIRUT – The Arab League has put Syrian VIPs on a travel ban list as European Union foreign ministers prepare sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad to press him into stopping the crackdown on protests.

Bloodshed continued in Syria yesterday, with six people killed and five critically wounded during an army sweep into the restive town of al-Trimsa in Hama province. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was a hotbed of anti-Assad sentiment.

The crisis erupted in March with street unrest inspired by anti-authoritarian revolts elsewhere in the Arab world.

However, with President Assad’s iron-fist policy towards protesters having killed thousands of civilians, according to a UN count, Syria may be sliding towards civil war as some soldiers and officers defect with their weapons to fight loyalist troops.

An Arab League committee convening in Cairo registered 17 Syrian VIPs banned from travel to Arab states, including the president’s brother Maher, who commands the military’s elite Republican Guard and is Syria’s second most powerful man.

President Assad was not on the draft blacklist.

The Egyptian state news agency said the list, a constituent part of a sanctions policy adopted at the weekend by 19 of the league’s 22 members, included the defence and interior ministers, intelligence officials and senior military officers. – (Reuters)