12/23/2011 11:14 EST | Updated 02/22/2012 05:12 EST

Canada imposing sanctions on Syria

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada will impose new sanctions on Syria, including a ban on the export of software for the monitoring of telephone and internet communications.

"Canada will continue to put the squeeze on the Assad regime," Baird said about President Bashar Assad. "We will not sit idly by — not while Assad and his thugs continue to violate the rights of the Syrian people."

Speaking Friday from the foyer of the House of Commons, the same day twin suicide car bomb blasts ripped through an upscale Damascus district, Baird said all imports from Syria with the exception of food will be barred.

All new investment in Syria is banned, and the export of equipment, including software for the monitoring of telephone and internet communications, will be blocked, he said.

Canada will also freeze assets and prohibit economic dealings with additional individuals and entities associated with the Assad regime.

"The vise is tightening on Assad," Baird said, condemning the violence against Syrian citizens.

"Assad will fall. The government will fall. It's only a matter of time," he said.

A delegation of the Syrian National Council —a group of Syrian dissidents — also met with Baird later in the day.

"We asked the Canadian government to recognize the people's revolution, to recognize the people's demands for freedom and democracy in Syria," said Obaida Nahhasa, a spokesman for the group.

"We have thanked the Canadian government for asking [Assad] to step down and for his team to go with him and we have also asked the Canadian government to help convince some countries, some governments in the UN Security Council to bring forward a resolution that will help in the protection of civilians in Syria."

Over the past months, Canada has imposed bans on the import of Syrian oil and petroleum products, and barred any financing of that country's oil sector. Canada has also placed travel restrictions, an asset freeze and a prohibition on dealings with members of the Syrian regime.

Baird again encouraged Canadians still in Syria to leave as soon as possible.

The United Nations has said that more than 5,000 people have been killed since March in the Syrian government's crackdown against protesters.