Brussels:  EU foreign ministers on Friday imposed sanctions on the wife and three other close relatives of Syrian President Bashar Assad, freezing their assets and banning them from traveling to the EU in a continuing attempt to stop the violent crackdown on opposition.

Also on Friday, the United Nations' top human rights body sharply condemned the crackdown and the UN announced that the joint UN-Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, would travel to Russia and China for more talks aimed at peacefully resolving the crisis.

The UN estimates that more than 8,000 people have been killed since an uprising began in Syria a year ago.

Four members of the Assad family and eight government ministers were targeted on Friday by the EU the officials said. Three officials spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision that will be announced later today following the foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.

In addition, the assets of two Syrian companies have been frozen, an EU official said.

The EU has imposed 12 previous rounds of sanctions against the Syrian regime, so far with no appreciable effect on its behavior. The crackdown has only intensified.

Asma Assad, 36, the president's wife, was born in London, spent much of her life there, and has British citizenship.

Britain's Home Office said today that a British citizen subject to EU travel ban could not be refused entry into the country.

However, Nigel Kusher, a British lawyer who is an expert on sanctions, said he believed Asma Assad is now effectively banned from traveling to the UK.

Annan and two aides will go to Moscow and Beijing to press the case for his six-point plan, his spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, said. Western countries have pushed for UN Security Council action, but Russia and China have twice vetoed resolutions criticizing Assad's regime.

(Agencies)