Injured British Journalist Evacuated from Syria To Lebanon
Conroy is the fourth foreign journalist to be caught up in the shelling of Homs in the last two months. Last week, respected US war reporter Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in a rocket attack, and last month, French journalist Gilles Jacquier died in the shelling.
Yesterday, in an undertaking reminiscent of the beginning of the end for Gaddhafi's Libyan regime, the EU recognised the Syrian National Council and further tightened sanctions first imposed in August 2011 against President Bashar al-Assad's government. Syrian opposition leaders should work with the Arab League and agree on a set of shared principles to work towards an orderly and peaceful transition to a democratic, stable Syria, said EU foreign ministers after their meeting in Brussels yesterday morning.
Sanctions on Assad's government have been tightened, including an asset freeze on the Syrian Central Bank, a ban on gold transactions and other precious metals, a ban on cargo flights operated by Syrian carriers, and restrictions on seven ministers.
"The real issue of course is how to put the pressure on to stop the violence. I very much support the appointment of Kofi Annan as the envoy of the UN and the Arab League. I wish him speedy success in his discussions...We will continue to look at what we can do...especially today looking at sanctions," said Catherine Ashton, the EU's High Representative.
Although the UK and EU have been pushing for a regime change in Syria, their efforts that have been resisted by Syrian allies Russia and China which have blocked two successive UN Security Council resolutions essentially calling for Assad's replacement. In the last year, over 5000 civilians have been killed by Assad's security forces as Syria slips inexorably into civil war.
The country has been kicked out of the Arab League and President Bashar al-Assad's relations with the international community are going from bad to worse. Assad's crackdown on his political opposition has resulted in the deaths of many civilians and children, a fact that has been deplored by the UN and international leaders.
UK Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne said: "We have all seen the images of the destruction and suffering caused by the Syrian forces’ bombardment of Homs and other cities. We have read with horror of the ongoing human rights violations committed by the regime – of thousands of civilians killed, of small children targeted by government snipers, of hospitals transformed into torture centres, and of executions carried out in places of worship.
This is why the British Government has strongly supported the League of Arab States’ call for the Syrian government to cease all violence and protect its population. I am very concerned that abuses are also being committed by members of anti-government groups in Syria, although it is clear that these are on a far smaller scale than the widespread and systematic violations perpetrated by the Syrian authorities. I call on all parties in Syria to end the violence immediately and to respect human rights standards."
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