The European Council strongly condemned Syria on another deadly day of protests Friday, saying the "regime is calling its legitimacy into question" by opting for a "path of repression instead of fulfilling its own promises on broad reforms."
This comes as another day of demonstrations unfolded across Syria, leading to the deaths of 10 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group. Another person died Friday from injuries in another demonstration a couple of days ago, bringing the death count to 11.
The European Council -- made up of the heads of the state or government of European Union member states -- deplored the "ongoing repression and unacceptable and shocking violence the Syrian regime continues to apply against its own citizens."
It also expressed grave concern about reports of Syrian military activity near the Turkish border at Khirbet al-Jouz and urged "maximum restraint."
This comes after the Council of the European Union voted Thursday to expand sanctions against Syria by freezing the assets of seven people and four businesses with connections to the regime.
The detail was published in the European Union's Official Journal on Friday, and the restrictive measures were hailed by British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
"These measures are carefully targeted and focused on those responsible for violent repression. Contrary to the Syrian authorities' claims, the economic problems Syria is facing are a direct and predictable consequence of the Syrian authorities' decision to choose repression over reform," Hague said.
Among those sanctioned were three commanders in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps accused of helping the "regime suppress protests" and "providing equipment and support" to the government, according to the European Union Official Journal. One of the three is Brig. Cmdr. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the corps' general commander.
"I welcome the inclusion of three Iranian individuals on the list," Hague said. "The Iranian government's provision of equipment and technical advice to help suppress peaceful protests is absolutely unacceptable. Iran's actions are in stark contrast to the will of the Syrian people. They also highlight again Iran's blatant hypocrisy, claiming publicly to support freedom in the Arab world, while privately assisting in violent repression."
Two of those sanctioned were first cousins of al-Assad. They are Zoulhima Chaliche, head of presidential security, and Riyad Chaliche, director of the military housing establishment. Two others were business associates of Maher al-Assad, the president's brother and commander of the army's 4th Division and "strongman of the Republican Guard."
Maher al-Assad was among 23 Syrian officials sanctioned by the EU in May, and he is regarded as the "principal overseer" of the crackdown against protesters.
Others sanctioned at that time were President al-Assad, Ali Mamluk, the head of Syria's general intelligence directorate, and Rami Makhlouf, the Syrian businessman and cousin and confidant of the president.
Anti-government protests have raged for more than three months, with protests gaining momentum amid a tough government crackdown.
Demonstrators took to the streets Friday after Muslim prayers as they had on past Fridays in recent weeks.
Protests were held in Hama, Homs, Deir El Zour, Idlib, Qameshli, Latakia, and in the al-Midane and Qaboun neighborhoods in Damascus, according to Rami Abdelrahman, head of the London-based Syria Observatory for Human Rights.
Four people died Friday in demonstrations in Barza, a suburb of Damascus; three were killed in Homs, in the west; two were killed in Kaswa, near Damascus; and one was killed in Qoseir, near the Lebanese border. One person injured in Hama in a demonstration a couple of days ago died of his injuries Friday.
The number of estimated deaths has exceeded 1,600, Abdelrahman said, with 1,316 civilians and 341 soldiers and security forces killed.
About 10,000 people have been jailed, he said, but that number is fluid because there have been many releases and new detentions.
Nadim Houri of Human Rights Watch said the number of people killed so far is 1,350.
The military crackdown has spurred the flight of refugees from Syria into Turkey. At least 11,739 refugees are now in Turkey, the Hatay governor's office in Turkey said Friday. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said 500 displaced people have returned home.
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