European Union (EU) foreign ministers have, in principle, reached an agreement for imposing far reaching new economic sanctions against Syria. The major one is an embargo on oil-related imports from that country.

In addition to this the move, there will be sanctions on financing and insurance services concerning the oil sector. The aim is to limit the Syrian government's financial resources. The embargo will bring the 27-member bloc in accordance with the most recent move from the U.S. of isolating Bashar al-Assad's regime.

In the Netherlands, several parties have already asked the country's biggest oil company, Shell, for stopping oil production in Syria. But the company says it will continue operations until the sanctions are put into effect. At present, Shell is producing over 10 thousand barrels of crude oil in Syria.

According to the Dutch Foreign Minister, Uri Rosenthal, the EU will ban all imports of crude oil and oil products from Syria, as well as financing and insurance of oil transport linked to the unrest-torn country. This means it will be difficult to import oil from Syria even for non-EU countries.

Rosenthal stressed that the restrictive measures are aimed at the government and not to punish the Syrian people.

Meanwhile, the EU will also expand its list of sanctions on Syria by adding four people who are supporting the regime financially, as well as three companies including a bank. Also cooperation with the Syrian regime will be put on hold and all the talks about transport and investments will be stopped.

Damascus gets about 28 per cent of its revenue from the oil trade. Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad’s assault on protests continued, killing at least 13 people, activists said.