March 23 - The European Union slaps new sanctions on Syria and a travel ban on President Assad's wife Asma as scores die in renewed clashes around the country. Sunita Rappai reports.
A Syrian army tank in the city of Homs appears to take a direct hit from rebel fighters. The images - posted on a social media website - cannot be independently verified by Reuters. But they add to evidence of ongoing fighting across the country amid calls for renewed sanctions. . More than 40 people died in clashes on Thursday, a day after a UN Security Council call for an immediate ceasefire. In Singapore, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon repeated calls for a resolution to the crisis, through the peace plan drafted by his envoy Kofi Annan. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL, BAN KI-MOON, SAYING: "As the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate, it is more urgent than ever to find the resolution of this issue." Meanwhile, EU foreign policy ministers arriving for a meeting in Brussels, including Germany's Guido Westerwelle and Britain's William Hague, repeated calls to increase pressure on Syria. Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU would be announcing additional sanctions - as well as imposing travel bans on a further 12 people, including Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's wife, Asma. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF, CATHERINE ASHTON, SAYING: "I cannot say to you in strong enough terms how much we are concerned about what is going on in Syria." As well as a travel ban, Asma Assad has also had her assets frozen. The British-born former investment banker has stood by her husband during the year-long crackdown on popular unrest which has reportedly left at least 8000 people dead. Sunita Rappai, Reuters