Syria's Tourism Minister says new European Union sanctions won't keep him from preserving popular attractions like Aleppo's ancient city which has been ravaged by war. Deborah Gembara reports.
Bishr Yazagi has an admittedly tough job. He's Syria's minister of tourism, responsible for drumming up interest in popular attractions like the ancient city of Aleppo -- even as war rages all around. Now, he's facing another challenge --- he's one of twelve Syrian government ministers the European Union has imposed sanctions on, accusing the group of "serious human rights violations." The sanctions mean they'll have their assets frozen and they won't be allowed to travel. Yazagi says he's not worried, adding that the timing is suspect. SOUNDBITE: Syrian Minister Of Tourism, Bishr Yazagi speaking (Arabic): "I think they won't be an obstacle to us performing our duties. The EU had a goal with these sanctions, especially in imposing them now- after the victory we achieved in the presidential elections. They're probably a desperate attempt to increase the pressure." He's also more determined then ever to continue working to preserve Aleppo's history. SOUNDBITE: Syrian Minister Of Tourism, Bishr Yazagi speaking (Arabic): "They talk about humanitarianism and impose sanctions using the excuse of human rights violations. We want to see their humanity in Aleppo and in their defense of humanitarian civilization and heritage in Aleppo." Much of the city is in rebel hands and many who live beyond the historic city--- are facing water and food shortages since the government began restricting supply deliveries.