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EU imposes sanctions on Syrians accused of recruiting mercenaries for Russia

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The European Union imposed asset freezes and visa bans on ten Syrians on Thursday, accusing them of recruiting mercenaries to fight for Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

The names of the Syrians - along with two private security firms - were added to the existing EU sanctions list and published in the 27-member bloc’s official journal.

Those on the blacklist include leading businessman Issam Shammout, the owner of the Cham Wings airline, who is reputedly a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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An army colonel, Saleh al-Abdullah is accused of recruiting soldiers from his 16th Brigade, which operated with Russian forces in Syria, to fight in Ukraine.

Muhammad al-Salti, the commander of the Palestine Liberation Army, a Syrian government-backed force, was said to be “engaged in the recruitment of Palestinians to fight in Ukraine alongside Russia.”

Two private security companies, Sanad Protection and Security Services and the al-Sayyad Company for Guarding and Protection Services, nicknamed the “ISIS Hunters,” were also hit with sanctions.

The EU says that Sanad is supervised by the Russian mercenary firm Wagner and protects Russian business interests in Syria, including oil, gas and phosphate extraction.

The al-Sayyad Company is also linked to Wagner and is accused of being “active in the recruitment of Syrian mercenaries to Libya and Ukraine.”

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