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Syria: EU sanctions amount to declaration of war

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Syria: EU sanctions amount to declaration of war

Country warns it will not tolerate foreign interference

  • Thousands of Syrians turned out for rallies Tuesday in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
    euronews screengrabThousands of Syrians turned out for rallies Tuesday in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A defiant Syria says European Union sanctions against it amount to war and is warning that it will not tolerate any foreign interference in its internal affairs.

The EU has already imposed restrictive measures on 23 Syrian officials and others connected to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in two rounds of sanctions after its violent crackdown on protesters, the Wall Street Journal reports. The second round of measures targeted Assad himself.

The sanctions will take effect Friday

Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallim on Wednesday dismissed the sanctions, which target military-linked companies in Syria and individuals — including Iranians providing assistance to the Syrian government.

Since the mid-March outbreak of disturbances in Syria, "not a single European leader has come to Syria to discuss what is going on," Muallim said. Instead, "they have begun imposing a series of sanctions that today are hitting the livelihood of Syrians, which is equivalent to war."

Meanwhile, he said, Syria would "forget Europe is on the map."

He also denied that Iran and Hezbollah were helping Assad put down the unrest. Instead, he suggested that al-Qaeda might be behind some of the violence, pointing out that Syrian security personnel had been killed.

"No one outside (Syria) can impose on us their point of view," Muallim said, AFP reports.

"We say to those in Europe who are criticizing us that they should stop interfering in Syrian affairs and sowing trouble in order to apply plans contrary to Syrian national interests."

Iran, a key ally of Syria, has been singled out by the United Kingdom and others as providing crucial support for Assad's crackdown, the WSJ reports.

A three-month crackdown on anti-government protesters in Syria has left an estimated 1,400 people dead.

Western governments have been circulating a draft Security Council resolution condemning Assad's crackdown, although Russia has warned it would veto any such move.

On Monday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Assad had reached "a point of no return."

"Some believe there's still time for him to change his ways and commit to a [reform] process," he said. "For my part, I doubt it. I think that the point of no return has been reached."

Meanwhile, Muallim hinted that Turkey, which has set up tent camps to house 10,000 Syrians who have fled to escape the violence, should "reconsider its position," and that that Syria wants "best relations" with its neighbor to the north.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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