American sanctions targeting Syria have disrupted relief efforts following catastrophic earthquakes that have killed more than 19,000 people in the region earlier this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said. Beijing urged the US to lift the penalties against Syria and “unlock the doors for humanitarian aid.”
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning was asked to comment on the sanctions during her daily press briefing on Wednesday, noting Washington’s history of intervention in Syria and the grave consequences for average citizens.
“The devastating earthquakes – on top of years of war and turmoil – have left Syria in a terrible humanitarian crisis,” she said, adding that “frequent [US] military strikes and harsh economic sanctions have caused huge civilian casualties and taken away the means to subsistence of the Syrians.”
Humanitarian groups, such as the Syrian Arab Red Crescen (SARC) and the US-based Arab American-Anti-Discrimination Committee, have implored US officials to drop the sanctions following Monday’s quakes, which rocked Syria and Türkiye and killed thousands in both countries.
Many residents are now trapped under collapsed buildings, creating an urgent need for timely relief, though humanitarian organizations say US sanctions have only made the job more difficult.
Read More: Anger and desperation grow in search of earthquake survivors
“The evacuation process and rescue operations are restricted due to obstacles resulting from the severe sanctions. We have shortages in heavy machines and equipment is needed to lift the rubble,” said SARC president Khaled Hboubati, adding that US sanctions are creating the greatest obstructions for relief efforts.
Washington has outright refused to consider halting the economic penalties, with the State Department insisting such a move would be “counterproductive” while claiming the Syrian government has “brutalized” its own citizens during its decade-long struggle against armed jihadist groups seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Mao went on to condemn ongoing US military operations in Syria, stating that American forces are stealing the country’s energy resources at a staggering rate.
“As we speak, the US troops continue to occupy Syria’s principal oil-producing regions. They have plundered more than 80% of Syria’s oil production and smuggled and burned Syria’s grain stock. All this has made Syria’s humanitarian crisis even worse,” she continued.
Though Damascus has repeatedly denounced the US military presence and demanded an end to what it regards as an illegal occupation of its sovereign territory, Washington has refused to budge. Just shy of 1,000 US soldiers continue to operate in Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria’s oil-rich northeast, as well as its southern border area, where they are embedded with Arab rebel factions.
Many Pakistanis are also raising their voice against the sanctions imposed on Syria.
Syria was already reeling from disasters of war & sanctions before this week’s earthquake multiplied their misery. Sanctions must be lifted immediately, so that the international community can open their hearts & stand by Syrians in their darkest hour.#TurkeySyriaEarthquake pic.twitter.com/XrZA5lVXEV
— Khawaja M. Asif (@KhawajaMAsif) February 9, 2023
There have been reports that while Türkiye is being provided with international aid, Syria is being neglected by the international community.
Iran and Russia are the ones to send aid to Syria only. While Turkey is getting the much needed intl help, there are no emergency assistance flights towards #Syria. Sanctions are not allowing aids and help to reach there. Syrians need to recover. LIFT THE SANCTIONS NOW! 2/2 pic.twitter.com/9Bgh8bFeBQ
— QAISRA (@BhattiQaisra) February 7, 2023
RT story with additional input from Global Village Space News Desk.