The embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday pressed on with a deadly crackdown on dissent even as a flood of fresh sanctions further isolated Damascus.
Activists said 14 civilians were killed by Syrian forces in the flashpoint provinces of Idlib and Homs, while in the southern Daraa Province, cradle of eight months of anti-regime unrest, a blast killed seven security forces.
The latest violence came as the world’s largest Islamic body, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), urged member Syria to cooperate with the Arab League and allow a team of observers to visit the country.
The League imposed sanctions on the Damascus regime on Sunday after it defied an ultimatum to accept observers under a plan to halt the crackdown which the UN says has killed more than 3,500 people since mid-March.
After emergency talks on Syria, a statement by the OIC urged Damascus to “immediately stop using excessive force against civilians” and to “respond to the decisions of the Arab League.”
Speaking after the meeting, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said the group “urged Syria to stop violating human rights and to allow Islamic and international human organizations access to Syria.”
Turkey, following the lead of Arab states, also announced on Wednesday a raft of sanctions against Syria, winning praise from Washington which said the action will further isolate Assad’s embattled regime.
The Arab League, which suspended Syria’s membership in November, approved unprecedented sanctions against Syria including a freeze on government assets, suspending cooperation with Syria’s central bank and halting funding for projects in the country.
On Wednesday a League committee met at the pan-Arab bloc’s Cairo headquarters to decide on a list of Syrian officials who will be banned from Arab countries and whose bank accounts will be frozen.
Syria is also facing US and EU sanctions and the EU was set to beef up punitive oil and financial measures against Damascus yesterday.