Clients were told by Syrian banks that they can no longer use Visa cards neither in Syria nor abroad if those cards are issued in Syria, a Syrian newspaper said Thursday. Al-Watan newspaper quoted Syrian bank officials as saying Visa cards, which were first used in Syria in March 2005, are no longer valid since Wednesday. Mobile text messages were sent by Syrian banks to all clients on Tuesday evening, notifying them of the measure. The measure came in compliance with recent U.S. sanctions on Syria that hit the largest state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria and the SyriaTel cell phone operator as part of pressures on the Syrian government to halt its violence against protesters. Maya al-Jazairi, a bank employee, told Xinhua that the international Visa card and Master card companies have halted all dealings with Syria since Tuesday noon. She said the government is trying to find an alternative for those companies. Syria has been in unrest since mid-March when anti-government protests broke out in the southern province of Daraa and spread to other cities. The Syrian authorities blamed the unrest on \"armed groups and foreign conspiracy,\" and stressed that it would track down gunmen who have intimidated people and damaged public and private properties.