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U.S. slaps sanctions on Syrian defense minister

(Xinhua)

09:26, March 31, 2012

WASHINGTON, March 30 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Friday that it had slapped sanctions on the Syrian defense minister and two senior military officials.

In a statement, the Treasury Department said it had designated Syrian Minister of Defense Dawood Rajiha, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army Munir Adanov and Head of Presidential Security Zuhayr Shalish.

The department noted that the designations were pursuant to an executive order signed by U.S. President Barack Obama in May last year, which was designed to target senior Syrian government officials.

According to the department, U.S. persons are prohibited from doing business with the designees and their assets under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen.

The fresh round of sanctions against senior Syrian officials came days after the Syrian government accepted the six-point peace plan put forward by UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan. The proposal includes commitments to end the violence, allow humanitarian assistance and permit protests.

On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department blamed the Syrian government for not implementing Annan's peace plan, citing the continuing violence in the Middle East country.

In a letter sent to leaders of the five-nation BRICS bloc on Thursday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said his country would exert all efforts to make Annan's mission a success, and Syria would soon start a national dialogue involving all spectra of its people.

As a response to Assad's message, the five BRICS countries called for dialogue, in the Delhi Declaration on Thursday, to resolve the Syria crisis as well as "an immediate end to all violence and violations of human rights in that country."

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