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European Union Imposes Sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad

Bashar Assad

March 30, 2012: Syrian President Bashar Assad addresses the Parliament, in Damascus, Syria. (AP)

BRUSSELS -- The European Union imposed sanctions Monday on Syrian President Bashar Assad over the continuing crackdown on anti-government protesters, in which more than 900 people have reportedly been killed.

Earlier this month, the 27-nation EU sanctioned 13 people with links to the Syrian regime, but Assad was not among them. A European official said at the time that the omission was part of a deliberately gradual approach.

But the killing of anti-government protesters has continued unabated. Syrian security forces opened fire on a funeral procession for slain anti-government protesters Saturday, pushing the number of people reported killed in a two-month uprising to more than 900 and making it one of the deadliest of the Arab Spring.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, heading into a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, said Monday that expanding the sanctions to include the Syrian president was "the right thing to do."

Assad inherited power from his father in 2000. Between the two of them, the Assad family has ruled Syria for 40 years.