The EU is to impose sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the first time to pressure him to end his brutal crackdown on dissent, diplomats say, the BBC informs. Foreign ministers agreed at a meeting in Brussels to add Mr Assad and several officials to a list affected by travel bans and asset freezes, they add. The EU has already imposed sanctions on the president’s brother, four of his cousins and others in his inner circle. Five people were shot dead at funerals in Homs on Saturday, activists say. At least 44 people are believed to have been shot dead during Friday’s nationwide demonstrations. But the government said only 17 people had been killed by armed gangs at small gatherings. Human rights activists say more than 850 people have been killed and thousands arrested since the operation to quell dissent began in March.