Syrian Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad has reiterated his country’s determination to combat terrorism and practice its legal right to put an end to any illegitimate military presence on its soil.
Mekdad, who is also a former permanent envoy to the United Nations, made the remarks in a speech via video to the 46th session of Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.
“Terrorism remains a major threat and some countries are trying to exploit our country’s suffering for political pressure,” Mekdad said, stressing that, “Syria is determined to continue fighting terrorism and to exercise its legal right to end any illegal presence on its territory.”
The top Syrian diplomat pointed to right violations committed by occupation forces in his country, particularly the recent activities by the Turkish military in addition to Ankara’s support for terrorist groups in Syria.
“In light of the Turkish, American and Israeli occupation, terrorist groups and separatist militias continue to commit gross and systematic violations of human rights to serve the interests of their operators and supporters,” Mekdad said.
“Water cuts as a collective punishment for a million citizens in Hasakah Governorate is one of the examples of the grave and systematic violations committed by the Turkish occupation forces and their groups,” he added.
On October 9, 2019, Turkish forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push Kurdish militants affiliated with the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.
Ankara views the YPG, which is supported by the White House, as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
‘Sanctions directly target Syrian civilians’ livelihood’
During his virtual speech on Monday, Mekdad also touched on the issue of illegal sanctions imposed on Syria and called on Human Rights Council to place the grave and systematic violations resulting from the US and European unilateral coercive measures against the Syrian people as a top priority.
“Those who claim that these coercive measures do not affect ordinary citizens lie because they only affect the citizens in their basic needs,” he said. “Some of those who adopted the draft resolutions related to Syria and others are among the governments that violate human rights the most.”
The United States recently imposed a round of sanctions against Syria known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act.
The sanctions came into effect on June 17 -- six months after being signed into law by former US President Donald Trump -- targeting individuals and businesses anywhere in the world that operate directly or indirectly within the sphere of Syria's economy. This includes entities that help the Arab country produce oil or fight terrorism in any way.
The US economic measures have effectively blocked imports of essential goods, impacting the Syrian people’s access to medical equipment, food, fuel, natural gas, and electricity.
Moreover, EU sanctions on the Syrian government have been in force since December 2011 and are subject to annual review.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Mekdad stressed the "inalienable" right of his country in the occupied Syrian Golan and said the right was guaranteed by international references and agreed upon by principles of the international law.
“Syria renews its firm support for the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital on the borders of June 4, 1967, with guaranteeing the right of refugees to return home in implementation of the United Nations relevant resolutions,” Mekdad added.