Swiss widen sanctions against Syria

Switzerland on Monday widened sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, adding 19 individuals and eight institutions to the list of key players under financial and travel embargo.

“These restrictive measures were decreed due to the violent repression that the army and the Syrian security forces have exercised for two months to snuff out peaceful demonstrations by the population,” said Bern in a statement.  

Monday’s move to include individuals such as former defence minister Hassan Bin-Ali al-Turmani and head of a military police unit Hayel al-Assad, came after the United States and the European Union both increased sanctions in recent weeks against Assad’s regime.  

To date, the amount of Syrian assets frozen by Switzerland stands at 45 million francs ($51 million), Bern said, noting however that the sum could go up when the updated blacklist enters into force on Tuesday.  

Switzerland had imposed travel and financial restrictions on Assad and other key players of his regime in May, and had already widened the blacklist once in August.  

Earlier on Monday, the United Nations human rights chief said that at least 2,600 people had been killed in the unrest in Syria since popular protests first broke out in mid-March.

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Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State

A 31-year-old woman from Winterthur who tried to travel to Syria to join Islamic State (IS) is standing trial under Swiss anti-terror laws.

Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State
The federal criminal court in Bellinzona. Photo: Swiss Confederation/OFCL

The alleged ‘jihadi tourist' appeared before Switzerland's federal criminal court in Bellinzona on Friday, the Swiss news agency SDA reported. 

In December 2015, the woman, accompanied by her four-year-old child, attempted to travel to Syria via Greece and Turkey in order to join IS, the authorities allege. 

Her intended destination was Raqqa, which was at the time an IS stronghold in Syria.

The woman was prevented from continuing her journey by the Greek authorities and was arrested at Zurich airport on her return to Switzerland in January 2016. 

The Swiss attorney general's office filed an indictment against the Swiss national for offences under the federal law that bans terror groups including Isis. 

According to the indictment, the woman radicalized herself through internet propaganda after converting to Islam in 2009.

It says the Swiss national believed it was the duty of all Muslims to support IS.

She said she rejected western values.

This is only the second case concerning a so-called ‘jihadi tourist' to go before Switzerland's federal criminal court. 

The first prosecution of its kind took place in 2016, when a 26-year-old man was found guilty of attempting to travel to join Isis and given an 18-month suspended jail sentence.

Islamic State has been banned in Switzerland since 2014.