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EU slaps news sanctions on Syria, bans investment in country's oil sector
BRUSSELS (AP) ' The European Union agreed on Friday to widen the blocs sanctions against Syria by banning investment in the country's oil sector following President Bashar Assad's regime brutal crackdown on protesters.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said that the new measure seeks to reinforce the ban on Syrian crude oil imports agreed on Sep. 2.
Friday's additional measures also include a ban to deliver bank notes to the Syrian Central Bak and travel and visa bans on more officials linked to the regime.
The U.N. has estimated that some 2,600 people have already been killed during the suppression of anti-government protests.
Ashton said that if the situation in Syria does not improve, there could be more sanctions.
Syria exports some 150,000 barrels of oil per day, with the vast majority going to the European Union. The EU says that Syria earned euro3.1 billion ($4.4 billion) by selling oil to the EU in 2010.
With the new investment ban, the EU seeks to target Syrian companies that explore and refine crude oil. It says that EU based operators can no longer participate or set up joint ventures with such Syrian companies, and are no longer allowed to provide credits and loans.
"Repression against the Syrian people must stop completely," Ashton said.