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Monday, March 08, 2004

Sanctions on Syria?

CRAWFORD, Texas (AFP/Yahoo) - The United States will soon slap sanctions on Syria, under a 2003 law allowing President George W. Bush (news - web sites) to punish the country for alleged support of radical Islamic groups and weapons programs, a US official said.

"It's coming," said a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official would not say what kind of sanctions would be imposed or when they might take effect.

In November 2003, the US Congress approved economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria, which Washington accuses of supporting terrorism. Bush signed the legislation, called the "Syria Accountability Act," into law in late December.

The law demands that Syria end its alleged support for terrorism, halt development of chemical and biological arms and medium and long-range missiles, and withdraw troops it has deployed in Lebanon.

It provides various levels of political and economic levers that can be used against Syria, including reducing the level of diplomatic representation and restricting the movements of Syrian diplomats in the United States.

Washington could also ban the sale of technology meant for civilian use but with military applications, freeze the assets of Syrians in the United States, and bar Syrian aircraft from US airspace.
DEBKAfile: Police called in to break up first ever anti-government rallies sweeping Syrian cities - staged Monday by opposition factions for ruling Baath revolution anniversary.