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SYRIA

Swiss ramp up Syria sanctions

Switzerland announced on Friday a toughening of sanctions against Syria, hitting the country's finance, oil and precious metal sectors.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said it would ramp up the pressure on Bashar al-Assad’s regime with a widening of trade restrictions, including an export ban on products destined for the oil and gas industry.

The ban extends to equipment used in the construction of power plants and telephone and internet surveillance, SECO said.

The supply and purchase of precious metals and diamonds is also banned and Syrian air company cargo flights will not be allowed to land in Switzerland.

In the banking sector, assets belonging to Syria’s central bank in Switzerland will be frozen.

Trade in new bonds issued by Syria is also banned and Swiss financial institutions will not be permitted to do new business with Syrian banks.

Switzerland introduced sanctions against Syria in May last year following Damascus’ brutal crackdown on protesters.

Bern has already imposed an embargo on military goods and oil, and travel bans on 128 individuals and 42 businesses linked to the Assad regime.

Assets worth more than 70 million francs have been frozen.

The latest sanctions are in line with those imposed by the European Union and will come into force on Saturday.

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SYRIA

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.