Bush imposes Syria sanctions

Last updated at 16:26 12 May 2004

US President George W Bush imposed economic sanctions on Syria today in an order that accused Damascus of supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and failing to stop anti-US guerrillas from entering Iraq.

In the widely expected, but largely symbolic move, Bush labeled Syria "an unusual and extraordinary threat" and imposed a series of sanctions including a ban on US exports to Syria other than food and medicine.

The sanctions also sever banking relations with the Commercial Bank of Syria, freeze assets of Syrians and Syrian entities suspected of involvement terrorism or WMD development, and prohibit Syrian flights to and from the United States. The sanctions were chosen from the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, which the president signed into law last December.

The White House said Bush would consider additional sanctions unless Damascus took steps to end support for Islamic militant groups including Hamas and Hezbollah, withdraw its troops from Lebanon, cease WMD development and cooperate fully with US-led efforts to stabilize Iraq.

Not among the sanctions was an expected curb on future investments by US energy companies, which constitute the only major American corporate presence in Syria.

Syria defiant

Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji al-Otari described the measure as "unjust and unwarranted" and told reporters the measure "will not have any impact on us in Syria."

Otari said Damascus "was still pursuing a policy of dialogue with the US administration."

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now