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European Union says no to Syrian oil

DAMASCUS, Syria, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- The flow of oil from Syria into European Union countries was cut off Saturday as part of the EU's pressure on President Bashar Assad to step down.

The union announced its embargo Friday after news emerged Syrian soldiers had shot and killed 14 anti-government demonstrators, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Human rights groups said eight of the people killed were in suburbs of Damascus.

Demonstrations against Assad's regime began in late January as other Arabic countries including Egypt, Tunisia and Libya underwent pro-democracy revolts.

Assad has defied international pressure to step down and British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the EU oil embargo wasn't meant to punish the Syrian population.

"President Assad and those around him are to blame for this. No one else," he said. "Any attempt to pass on further hardship to the Syrian people would show his utter disregard for their well-being."

The embargo turns off the flow of some 150,000 barrels of oil per day from Syria into the European Union, the Journal said.

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