The European Parliament, – having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria, in particular that of 7 July 2011 on the situation in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain in the context of the situation in the Arab world and North Africa, – having regard to the statement of the President of the European Parliament on the situation in Syria and the reactions of the international community of 19 August 2011, – having regard to Council Decision 2011/522/CFSP on amending Decision 2011/273/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria, Council Decision 2011/523/EU on partially suspending the application of the Cooperation Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Syrian Arab Republic, and Council Regulation 878/2011 amending Regulation (EU) No 442/2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria of 2 September 2011, – having regard to the statements of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on Syria of 8 and 31 July; 1, 4, 18, 19, 23 and 30 August; and 2 September 2011, – having regard to the Council conclusions on Syria of 18 July 2011, – having regard to the Joint Communication on ‘A new response to a changing neighbourhood’ of the European Commission and the High Representative to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions of 25 May 2011, – having regard to the UN Security Council Presidential Statement of 3 August 2011, – having regard to the UNHRC Resolution on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic of 23 August 2011, – having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, – having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966, to which Syria is party, – having regard to Rule 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure, A. whereas, since the start of the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Syria in March 2011, and despite the repeal of the state of emergency announced on 21 April by the government, the systematic killings, violence and torture have been dramatically escalating and the Syrian army and security forces continue to respond with targeted killings, torture and mass arrests; whereas according to U.N. estimates, over 2 600 people have lost their lives, many more have been injured and thousands detained; B. whereas the High Commissioner’s fact-finding mission of 19 August found evidence of hundreds of summary executions, the use of live ammunition against demonstrators, the widespread deployment of snipers during protests, the detention and torture of people of all ages, blockading of towns and cities by the security forces and the destruction of water supplies; C. whereas the government of the Syrian Arab Republic committed itself to implementing democratic and social reforms but failed to take the necessary steps to fulfil them; D. whereas many Syrians have to face a deteriorating humanitarian situation as a result of the violence and displacements; whereas neighbouring countries of Syria and the international community are making considerable efforts to prevent the further deterioration and escalation of this humanitarian crisis; E. whereas the crisis in Syria constitutes a threat to the stability and security of the entire Middle East region; F. whereas the EU has adopted restrictive measures against the Syrian regime as a consequence of the escalation of the brutal campaign which the regime has been waging against the Syrian people, and whereas the EU is considering extending those sanctions; G. whereas the Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Syrian Arab Republic, of the other part, has never been signed; whereas the signing of this agreement has been delayed at Syria’s request since October 2009; whereas the Council decided not to take any further steps in this field as well as to partially suspend the application of the existing Cooperation Agreement; H. whereas the new approach proposed by the European Commission and the High Representative as a new response to a changing neighbourhood is based on mutual accountability and a shared commitment to the universal values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law; I. whereas the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on 23 August 2011 calling for the dispatching of an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations in Syria, which may amount to crimes against humanity; 1. Strongly condemns the escalating use of force against peaceful protesters and the brutal and systematic persecution of pro-democracy activists, human rights defenders and journalists; expresses its deepest concern at the gravity of the human rights violations perpetrated by the Syrian authorities, including mass arrests, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, disappearances and torture; 2. Expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims and its solidarity with the Syrian people fighting for their rights, commends their courage and determination and strongly supports their aspirations to achieve full respect of the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms and the guarantee of better economic and social conditions; 3. Supports the Council’s conclusions of 18 July 2011, which state that the Syrian regime is calling its legitimacy into question by choosing a path of repression instead of fulfilling its own promises on broad reforms; calls on President Bashar al Assad and his regime to relinquish power immediately, and rejects impunity; 4. Calls again for an immediate end to violent crackdowns against peaceful demonstrators and harassment of their families, the release of all detained protesters, political prisoners, human rights defenders and journalists, and full access to the country for international humanitarian and human rights organisations as well as international media; calls upon the Syrian authorities to stop government censorship of local and foreign publications, end repressive government control over newspapers and other publications, and to lift restrictions on the Internet and mobile communication networks; 5. Reiterates its call for an independent, transparent and effective investigation into the killings, arrests, arbitrary detention and alleged forced disappearances and instances of torture by the Syrian security forces in order to ensure that the perpetrators of such acts are held to account; welcomes in this context the recent resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council calling for an independent international commission of inquiry to be dispatched to Syria to investigate all allegations of violations of international human rights law committed by the regime since March 2011 in order to establish the facts and circumstances of these crimes and violations, identify those responsible and ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable; 6. Calls at the same time for an immediate, genuine and inclusive political process with the participation of all democratic political actors and civil society organisations which could be the basis of a peaceful and irreversible transition to democracy in Syria; welcomes in this context the recent UN Security Council Presidential Statement stressing that the only solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process; calls on the members of the UNSC, and in particular Russia and China, to proceed with a resolution condemning the use of lethal force by the Syrian regime and calling for an end to this use of force, and to put in place sanctions for failure to do so; takes note of the meeting of the Secretary-General of the Arab League with the Syrian authorities and hopes that it will be followed by concrete results; 7. Welcomes the adoption by the Council on 2 September 2011 of new restrictive measures against the Syrian regime, including a ban on the import of crude oil to the EU and the addition of four Syrian persons and three entities to the list of those targeted by an asset freeze and travel ban; calls, however, for further sanctions that target the regime but minimise the negative impacts on the living conditions of the population; calls on the EU to show a united front in its dealings with the Syrian authorities; 8. Welcomes the humanitarian assistance provided by neighbouring countries of Syria, in particular Turkey, to Syrian refugees; encourages the EU and its Member States to continue working together with members of the UNSC, neighbouring countries of Syria, the Arab League, other international actors and NGOs in order to prevent the potential escalation of the current crisis in Syria, including the humanitarian crisis, to other areas in the region as well as further aggravation of the humanitarian crisis within the country; 9. Welcomes the condemnation of the Syrian regime by Turkey and Saudi Arabia; regrets Iran’s continuing support for President Al Assad’s regime; 10. Calls on the VP/HR, the Council and the Commission to further encourage and support the emergence of organised Syrian democratic opposition forces both within and outside Syria; 11. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation, the Government and Parliament of the People's Republic of China, the US Administration and the US Congress, the Secretary-General of the Arab League and the Government and Parliament of the Syrian Arab Republic.