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EU sanctions hit Syrian tobacco, oil firms

(BRUSSELS) - The new EU sanctions on Syria target a tobacco company, the central bank's governor and the Venezuelan-born chief of an oil firm, the Official EU Journal showed on Tuesday.

The EU slapped an assets freeze on the General Organisation of Tobacco and the Altoun Group, an oil exporter, accusing them of providing financial support to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The 27-nation added three people to the list of those facing an EU travel ban and assets freeze, including Syrian central bank governor Adib Mayaleh, the head of Altoun and his assistant.

The chairman and chief executive of the oil company, Salim Altoun, was born in Caracas in 1940 and holds Venezuelan citizenship.

The EU Journal says Altoun and his assistant, Youssef Klizi, are involved in a scheme through the firm to "export Syrian oil with the listed company Sytrol in order to provide revenue to the regime".

The tobacco company, wholly owned by the Syrian state, transfers profits to Damascus, "including through the sale of licences to market foreign brands of tobacco and taxes levied on imports of foreign brands of tobacco."

The names were published one day after EU foreign ministers agreed on a 15th round of sanctions to pressure the Assad regime to stop repressing dissidents and respect a UN ceasefire deal.

The EU removed Saqr Khayr Bek, a deputy interior minister, from the sanctions list, bringing the number of people targeted by the measures down to 128. The sanctions also target 43 companies.


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