Canada closes embassy in Syria, imposes sanctions

Mon Mar 5, 2012 2:10pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has shut its embassy in Damascus and is imposing fresh sanctions on Syria, banning all dealings with the central bank as part of a campaign to stop President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown against rebels, officials said on Monday.

The United States, Britain, France and Switzerland have already shuttered their missions amid increasing levels of violence.

"Our people are out, the embassy and consulate are closed," said a spokesman for Foreign Minister John Baird.

The new round of Canadian sanctions, announced on Monday, also prohibit the provision or acquisition of financial or other related services to or from anyone in Syria or those acting on Syria's behalf.

The sanctions - the sixth round imposed by Ottawa on Damascus - also ban all dealing with seven cabinet ministers.

"Our message remains clear: Assad must go," Baird said in a statement.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren: editing by Janet Guttsman)