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European parliamentarians speak against EU’s anti-Syrian sanctions

Sanctions against Syria are among the biggest sanction packages ever imposed by the EU

HMEIMIM, March 21. /TASS/. European countries should take part in efforts to establish peace in Syria and lift sanctions against it, parliamentarians from the Council of Europe said as they visited Russia’s Hmeimim air base with a delegation of Russian lawmakers on Tuesday.

"I saw it for myself that Russia accomplishes here an important and huge humanitarian function to bring peace to Syria. I want to express admiration for Russia, the people who are doing so much to see peace established here," Italian Senator Antonio Razzi told reporters.

"I hope that Europe and all people of good will take part in this peace process that will be to the benefit of the whole humankind," he went on.

Czech deputy of the European Parliament Jaromir Kohlicek, for his part, said that sanctions against Syria must be lifted. "My position in the European Parliament is clear - I am firmly against the sanctions imposed by the European Parliament. This position has strengthened during this trip," the Czech parliamentarian noted.

Parliamentarians visited on Tuesday the Russian airbase, where they met with the command of the Russian group in Syria and familiarized themselves with the activity of the Russian center for reconciliation of warring parties, which renders humanitarian aid to the country’s population.

Russian military showed them the weapons left by militants when Syrian settlements were retaken from them, in particular self-made gas cylinder weapons of large caliber firing gas cylinders stuffed with explosives and damage agents. Russian military said these weapons have no devices for accurate aiming, so they don’t fire at a concrete target, but towards it.

As a result of low-precision firing, self-made bombs hit civilian, not military targets. "We were told in the European Union that this is the weapon used by the Syrian army. Now I see this is a lie," Kohlicek said.

EU sanctions against Syria are among the biggest sanction packages ever imposed by the EU. They have been expanded stage-by-stage starting from 2012, and at the moment include bans in imports of oil from Syria, supplies of fuel as well as oil products to Syria, restrictions on investment, a freeze on Syrian central bank assets held in Europe, an embargo on trade with dual-use technologies, as well as means and equipment for monitoring or blocking telephone and internet communications. Besides, the EU has blacklisted 239 individuals and 67 legal entities in Syria.

On Tuesday, the European Union imposed additional sanctions against Syria citing an alleged use of chemical weapons by government forces.

The Russian Defense Ministry declared the establishment of the reconciliation center on February 23, 2016. It is headquartered at the Hmeimim air base, Latakia province. The center was set up in line with agreements reached by Russia and the United States to facilitate the negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition and to organize humanitarian deliveries.