July 7, 2011 / 2:21 PM / 8 years ago

EU lawmakers call for more sanctions on Syria

* European lawmakers want more sanctions against Syria

* Humanitarian aid needed for Syrian refugees

* EU should help Libyan rebels with cash, parliament says

STRASBOURG, France, July 7 (Reuters) - European Union lawmakers called on Thursday for EU member states to impose more sanctions on Syria’s government to force it to end a crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

In a resolution on recent upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East, legislators in the European Parliament also said the EU should help Turkey and Lebanon set up a humanitarian aid corridor to assist refugees fleeing the violence in Syria.

“The Council (of EU governments) should continue to extend targeted sanctions to all persons and entities linked to the (Syrian) regime with the view to weakening and isolating them, paving the way for democratic transition,” the lawmakers said.

Syrian activists say security forces have killed more than 1,300 civilians since unrest against President Bashar al-Assad began three months ago.

In response, Western governments have imposed rounds of sanctions against Assad and his inner circle in an effort to cut off his sources of funding and end the violence.

The EU has already banned Assad and other officials from travelling to the bloc, and frozen their assets, and has targeted military-linked companies.

But some of the bloc’s 27 governments have in the past questioned the effectiveness of punitive measures against Assad, urging a gradual approach instead.

EU lawmakers, holding a regular session in Strasbourg, expressed concern over rising violence in Syria and said Europe should provide more humanitarian aid to victims, with thousands having fled to neighbouring states.

The parliament called on EU governments and the European Commission immediately to provide aid and support to the Turkish and Lebanese authorities to manage the humanitarian crisis — including by setting up an aid corridor at U.N. level.

The European Parliament also expressed concern at the situation in Libya, particularly over food shortages and a lack of medical assistance, and called on EU governments to make cash available to rebels of the Transitional National Council (TNC) fighting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Last month, EU foreign ministers agreed to look into using frozen Libyan funds to assist rebels, who have long sought access to Libyan money in foreign accounts affected by western sanctions against Gaddafi.

“The European Parliament ... calls on EU member states to act urgently to make part of the frozen Libyan assets available to the Transitional National Council... so that emergency needs can be met,” deputies said.

Reporting by Justyna Pawlak, editing by Rex Merrifield and Jason Neely

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