May 11 - Syrian State TV broadcasts pictures of what it says is life returning to normal in Deraa, but EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announces sanctions have been imposed. Nick Rowlands reports.
Syrian State TV says life is returning to normal on the streets of Deraa, epicentre of the seven week pro-democracy uprising. The Syrian government says the threat to President Bashar al-Assad is receding, as security forces tighten control across the country. The video broadcast by Syrian TV on Tuesday showed people shopping and buying petrol in Deraa. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (TRANSLATION PROVIDED BY SYRIAN TV) "l swear to God that shops are full and well supplied. l am not saying so because there is a camera in front of me, eggs are available, milk is available, vegetables are available. l want security to be back." (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED PRIEST: (TRANSLATION PROVIDED BY SYRIAN TV) "Everything is all right, conditions are normal, even more than normal, l met several friends and neighbours. At a session of the European Parliament on Wednesday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton confirmed sanctions had been adopted against Syria. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF, CATHERINE ASHTON: ''An embargo on arms, an asset freeze and travel ban for 13 key individuals in the regime. The freezing of our association agreement and of our cooperation with Syria. Let's be blunt and clear as I was with the foreign minister of Syria yesterday: what's happening in Syria is a popular aspiration for democracy and the rule of law. It's not some foreign plot.'' The affected individuals include the president's brother, who commands the Republican Guard, and key members of the intelligence services. Although Bashad initially responded to protests with vague promises of reform, and lifted the 48-year state of emergency, he then sent in the army to crush dissent when demonstrations persisted. Ashton sent a strong message to the Syrian leader: (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF, CATHERINE ASHTON: "Mr President, the Syrian people will not bow to tanks. We say to the regime to change course and to change course now." Nick Rowlands, Reuters.