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EU sanctions Iran Revolutionary Guard chiefs over Syria

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(BRUSSELS) - The European Union imposed sanctions on three commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, including its leader, accusing them of aiding the crackdown in Syria, the EU's Official Journal showed Friday.

Brigadier Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari was hit by an assets freeze and travel ban for being involved in "providing equipment and support to help the Syria regime suppress protests in Syria," the Journal said.

The same accusations were lodged against Major General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the guard's Qods unit, and Hossein Taeb, deputy commander for intelligence.

Four Syrians and four businesses were also hit by the new EU sanctions, which were formally adopted Thursday.

The Syrians include two first cousins of President Bashar al-Assad: Zulhima Shalish, head of presidential security, and Riyad Shalish, head of a public works company, the Military Housing Establishment.

Two business associates of the leader's brother Maher al-Assad were also slapped with sanctions on charges of funding the regime: Khalid Qaddur and Raif al-Quwatli.

The entities on the list include two firms controlled by Rami Makhlouf, a businessman already hit with sanctions as an individual: Bena Properties and Al Mashreq Investment Fund (AMIF), also known as Sunduq al-Mashrek al-Istithmari.

Another company, Hamsho International Group, was also targeted along with the Military Housing Establishment.

The list was published on the second day of an EU summit at which leaders are expected to voice their outrage at the crackdown.

The 11 individuals and businesses join an existing list of 23 people, including Assad, who have been hit with sanctions over a crackdown that Syrian rights activists say has killed more than 1,300 people.

Syria has reacted angrily to Europe beefing up its sanctions, with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem this week slamming the measures as "equivalent to war" and denying receiving assistance from Iran or Lebanon's militant group Hezbollah in putting down the protests.


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