EU slaps new sanctions on Syria

The EU ministers agreed to an assets freeze and visa ban on two firms and three people believed to provide funding for the regime, according to the office of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

“The continuing violence is appalling,” Ashton said Monday.

Inside Syria, regime forces suffered heavy casualties Monday during clashes at Rastan, a city that has been pummeled by government forces, opposition activists said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it received “preliminary information that three armored personnel carriers were destroyed and that at least 23 soldiers were killed.”

Medical supplies were running low after more than 60 people were reportedly injured from a barrage of roughly 255 mortar shells that rained on Rastan.

Elsewhere in Syria, at least four people were killed Monday, including a child struck by random gunfire from the regime’s army in Deir Ezzor, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition network.

The LCC also posted dire reports of the military aiming mortars and heavy artillery at the Homs village of Al-Burnhanieh.

Violence from the Syian conflict isn’t confined to the country’s borders. In neighboring Lebanon, at least one person was killed and 45 others wounded in ongoing violence, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported Monday.

The fighting in Lebanon pits residents of Bab al-Tebbaneh, a Sunni stronghold hostile to the Syrian regime, against Alawite residents of Jabal Mohsen, who support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Clashes that began Sunday in Lebanon ignited over the arrest of Islamist activist Chadi Mawlawi, who the Lebanese government accuses of being an operative in Al-Qaeda-inspired group. But his relatives deny the accusation.

Ali Hajar, one of Mawlawi’s cousins, said Mawlawi supports the Syrian rebels and is trying to help Syrian refugees by providing them with shelter and food. Hajar said his cousin was not affiliated with any terrorist group.

CNN cannot independently verify reports of deaths and violence because the Syrian government has severely restricted access to international media.

A team of U.N. monitors is on the ground to observe the progress of a so-called cease-fire and encourage the implementation of the peace plan.

On Saturday, the head of the U.N. observer mission, Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, said 157 civilian and military monitors were in the provinces of Daraa, Idleb, Hama and Homs, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported. About 300 observers are expected within weeks.

But the observers’ presence hasn’t stopped the bloodshed.

More than 1,000 people have died in Syria since a cease-fire was supposed to go into effect on April 12, according to the LCC.

The United Nations estimates that at least 9,000 people have died in the 14-month crisis, while opposition groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.

Despite the ongoing chaos, Syrian state-run media announced that results from recent parliamentary elections will be announced Tuesday. More than 7,000 candidates vied for 250 parliamentary seats.

But members of the opposition had urged Syrians to boycott the elections, saying a vote for any of the candidates amounted to a vote for al-Assad, whose family has ruled the country for 42 years.


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