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In Damascus, people condemn US anti-Syria sanctions

This photo published by Syrian official news agency SANA shows people attending a pro-government rally to condemn US sanctions imposed on the country in the city of Sweida in southwest Syria on June 11, 2020.

Syrians have staged a large protest in the capital Damascus against Washington’s sanctions targeting businesses and economic institutions that support the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The event on Thursday in an area west of the city saw thousands of demonstrators chanting slogans against the United States while waving Syrian flags and images of Assad in a show of support for his government.

The protest came days before new US sanctions targeting Syria and its regional allies would come into effect in the United States as part of the so-called Caesar Act, an American piece of legislation which alleges to support the Syrian people by protecting them against the Syrian administration’s way of governance.

The people who attended the Thursday demonstration condemned the Caesar Act as a harsh measure against the very people of Syria who have suffered as a result of a conflict that was triggered in early 2011 and has led to the death of thousands.

“Caesar's sanctions affect the financial health of the citizens, unlike all global sanctions. They affect even civilians, meaning the punishment is against the people specifically,” said Yaroub Kheirbeik, a journalist attending the protest in Damascus.

Some say the sanctions would deny the Syrian people access to key medicine and other vital goods and services.

Other cities of Syria saw a similar protest on Thursday. The official SANA news agency said thousands gathered in Sweida, a city near the Jordanian border in the southwest, to express support for the Assad government and his regional allies.

Experts believe the new US sanctions targeting Syria, which will be implemented on June 17, is a fresh attempt by Washington to pile pressure on Iran, a main supporter of the Syrian government in its nine years of war against foreign-backed militants.

Anti-sanctions protest in Syria also come in the wake of sporadic protests in some areas against a ‘lack’ of government action in the face of the deteriorating economic situation.

The government insists the economic situation in Syria will improve as the country is emerging from years of devastating militancy.

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