Canada Announces New Series of Sanctions on Syria

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Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced Friday the freezing of assets of more Syrians loyal to President Bashar al-Assad's regime, as well as a beefed-up trade ban.

"Canada will continue to put the squeeze on the Assad regime," Baird said. "We will not sit idly by, not while Assad and his thugs continue to violate the rights of the Syrian people."

"The Syrian people have endured a violent repression of their calls for basic freedoms and the rights that are essential to human dignity."

Assad, he said, "has responded with senseless violence, an abhorrent disregard for humanity and the slaughter of thousands of Syrian civilians, the people in fact he should be protecting, the people that are the very fabric of Syria."

Canada's top diplomat added that "Assad is cut off. His disgusting brand of violence must stop and come to an end. He must go."

The new measures prohibit all imports, with the exception of food, from Syria, as well as all new investment in Syria, and the export to Syria of equipment, including software, for the monitoring of telephone and Internet communications.

Canada is also imposing an assets freeze and prohibiting economic dealings with additional individuals and entities associated with the Assad regime, bringing the total targeted to 81 individuals and 31 entities.

This new round of sanctions is the fourth unveiled by Ottawa since May in response to a violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

Earlier Baird met for the first time with a delegation of the Syrian National Council opposition movement.

Syrian National Council representative Obaida Nahhas told a press conference, "We asked the Canadian government to help convince some countries, some governments in the U.N. Security Council to bring forward a resolution that will help in the protection of civilians in Syria."

While the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in the Syrian government crackdown, the Security Council has failed to agree on any formal resolution on Syria.

Russia and China have already vetoed one resolution proposed by European countries condemning Syria. Russia, which accuses the West of seeking regime change in Syria, last week proposed a new text which the European countries say is not tough enough on President Bashar Assad.

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