The British-born wife of Syria’s leader has been added to an EU list of undesirables banned from travel to Europe.
Europe’s foreign ministers put Asma Assad, 36, married to President Bashar al-Assad, on a register of more than 100 members of the ruling regime which already includes her husband.
As well as a European travel ban, they all face the freezing of their financial assets held in Europe.
But because the president’s wife was born in the EU, there was still confusion after the decision about whether she could legally be denied access to her own country of origin.
The decision to add Mrs Assad, and about a dozen others to the existing list of those facing sanctions, was nodded through at talks in Brussels which included UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.
The sanctions are being stepped up in the face of continuing government repression of popular opposition, with daily additions to the tally of deaths during the bombardment of anti-government strongholds in the country.
As well as the travel visa and asset bans on individuals associated with the regime, EU sanctions against Syria already include an arms embargo, and a ban on EU exports of oil and gas equipment to Syria.
The latest round of measures came in late February when the EU tightened the economic noose against President Assad’s government, freezing the assets of the Central Bank of Syria and restricting the Syrian regime’s access to the gold and precious metals market.