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EU prepares new Syria sanctions, targets arms industry

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* New EU sanctions to hit Syrian arms industry, government

* Formal approval due on Oct. 15

BRUSSELS, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The EU will toughen up itssanctions on Syria's arms industry and bar more of its officialsfrom travelling to Europe in order to crimp President Basharal-Assad's access to cash, diplomats said on Thursday.

They said European Union (EU) governments had reached apreliminary agreement on the measures intended to choke off themoney Assad needs to fund his military in its more than 18-monthbid to quash a popular rebellion against his government.

The new sanctions will be formally approved at a meeting ofEU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday and will targetSyrian airlines, its arms industry and government, they said.

The measures come as the West struggles to devise a solutionto end the violence in Syria, or formulate sanctions that couldhave a meaningful impact on the Syrian government and force itto stop violence against rebels. An estimated 30,000 people havedied in more than 18 months of fighting.

Europe's new round of sanctions - its 18th - will banEuropean companies from importing arms from Syria, as well astransporting or insuring Syrian sales, complementing an embargoon weapons sales to Damascus.

"This was approved already," one EU diplomat said.

Under the measures, Syrian airlines will no longer beallowed to land at European airports.

Twenty-eight more people, including government ministers whohave not yet faced sanctions, will be hit with a ban on travelto Europe and have their assets in European countries frozen.

EU governments also plan to maintain sanctions againstpeople who had been added to sanctions lists as governmentsministers but have changed jobs, in an effort to maintainfinancial pressure on Assad.

A list of existing EU sanctions against Syria is on:

(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Michael Roddy)

((Justyna.Pawlak@thomsonreuters.com)(+32 2 287 6853 x82853))

Keywords: SYRIA CRISIS/EU