|Activists say thousands of protesters have been killed by security forces in the five-month crackdown [Reuters]
The European Union has tightened sanctions against Syria, extending them to three Syrian companies that include a real estate bank, an investment group and a transport firm, according to the EU's Official Journal.
The additional sanctions, announced a day after the EU banned imports of Syrian crude oil, mean that member states will be banned from doing business with the named companies - Real Estate Bank, Mada Transport and Cham Investment Group.
Four Syrian businessmen, Fares Chehabi, Emad Ghraiwati, Tarif Akhras and Issam Anbouba, were also added to a list of people affected by EU asset freezes and travel bans.
The three companies and the four individuals financed or provided financial or economic support to the Syrian regime, the EU journal said.
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"The restrictions on admission and the freezing of funds and economic resources should be applied to additional persons and entities benefiting from or supporting the regime," the EU Journal said.
The EU said the move was as a result of the gravity of the situation in Syria, where thousands of protesters demanding political reforms and the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad have been killed by security forces in a five-month crackdown.
But Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, condemned the sanctions on Saturday.
"We have always said that unilateral sanctions will lead to nothing good. This ruins the partnership approach to any crisis," Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of a summit of ex-Soviet states in Tajikistan. "We are against unilateral sanctions."
Assad has brushed off the condemnation of his regime and punitive measures as foreign meddling.
The oil embargo is likely to hit Syria particularly hard as the country gets about 28 per cent of its revenue from the oil trade and sells fuel to France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
Protests against Bashar al-Assad's regime met with fatal crackdowns again on Friday
Syria exports some 150,000 barrels of oil per day, with the vast majority going to the European Union.
EU trade spokesman, John Clancy, said Syria earned 3.1bn euros ($4.4bn) by selling oil to the bloc in 2010.
Oil from Syria amounted to 1.5 per cent of EU's total crude oil imports that year.
Meanwhile, activists said on Friday 20 people were
killed by security forces across Syria, as protesters took to the streets under the slogan "death rather than humiliation".
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said eight people were killed when security forces intervened to disperse protests in several suburbs of Damascus, including Douma and Arbeen.