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EU prepares new Syria sanctions, targets arms industry

* New EU sanctions to hit Syrian arms industry, government

* Formal approval due on Oct. 15

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

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

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

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

Europe's new round of sanctions - its 18th - will ban European companies from importing arms from Syria, as well as transporting or insuring Syrian sales, complementing an embargo on weapons sales to Damascus.

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

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

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

EU governments also plan to maintain sanctions against people who had been added to sanctions lists as governments ministers but have changed jobs, in an effort to maintain financial 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