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Syria Sanctions Sought By Schumer, Gillibrand

Syria Sanctions

By MICHAEL GORMLEY   01/22/12 07:03 AM ET   AP

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The United States would hit Syria with sanctions against trade as long as it continues a violent crackdown on protesters under sanctions proposed by two U.S. senators.

The bill, to be released Sunday by Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, would require President Barack Obama to identify violators of human rights and call for reform and protection of pro-democracy demonstrators. It would also block any financial aid and property transactions in the United States involving Syrian leaders involved in the crackdown on protests.

The sanctions measure, to be proposed this week, would also prohibit the sale of high technology and telecommunications to Syria by any companies if the technology could be used for what the senators call censorship or human rights abuse. Visas to the United States would also be denied.

The 10-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad has turned increasingly militarized and chaotic as more frustrated regime opponents and army defectors arm themselves and fight back against government forces. The conflict in Syria has marked the most serious challenge to Assad, who took over from his father in 2000. There have been three suicide bombings in the capital since late December for which the government blamed terrorists.

"Assad has brutally violated the human rights of his own people while killing thousands of Syrian citizens and fostering terrorism across his borders," Gillibrand said in a statement to The Associated Press. "This new bill is an important step to end the bloodshed by the Syrian government and provide the Syrian people with tools needed to take back their own country."

Schumer said Syria shows no desire to stop the bloodshed.

"If Syria won't willingly change its brutal approach and continues to violate the human rights of those seeking to exercise their voices, then we will do everything we can to send the strongest message possible to that nation's leadership that this behavior is beyond the pale and not without consequence," Schumer said.

"It will also ensure that no companies that do business with the United States facilitate this type of censorship."

Schumer said United Nation's estimates show more than 5,400 people have died, and detainees total 15,000 to 40,000.

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Filed by Alana Horowitz  |