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EU, Arab League Tighten Syria Sanctions

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton addresses the media prior to the start of an EU foreign ministers meeting at the European Council building in Brussels, December 1, 2011

European Union diplomats say member nations have agreed to tighten sanctions on Syria, as the U.N. raised the death toll from Syria's crackdown on an eight-month-long uprising to at least 4,000.

EU officials said Thursday they added 11 more entities and 12 more individuals to a blacklist hit by travel bans and asset freezes imposed in an effort to stop the Syrian government's bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.

An Arab League committee in Cairo also released a list of 17 Syrians banned from traveling to Arab states. The list includes the brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, top Cabinet ministers and the country's richest businessman.

Officials say the list and other recommendations will be presented to Arab League members meeting in Doha on Sunday.

Meanwhile, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced Thursday the death toll in Syria has reached at least 4,000. She also warned the U.N.'s information indicates the number killed in unrest-related violence could be much higher.

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights says unrest-related violence Thursday has killed at least 13 people across Syria. The head of the rights group, Rami Abdelrahman, said sniper fire killed five people inside Homs. He also said raids by military forces killed six people near Hama.

Syria has refused to end the crackdown, calling it a necessary response to attacks by "armed terrorists" on civilians and security personnel.

The U.N. Human Rights Council will hold an urgent meeting in Geneva Friday to discuss the situation in Syria.

Arab League member Kuwait on Thursday urged its nationals to leave Syria due to safety concerns. The move follows mob attacks in Damascus on the embassies of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE after the Arab League decided to suspend Syria's membership.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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