Syria and Russia say they will intensify efforts to repatriate refugees and displaced people to areas liberated from foreign-backed terrorists, despite sanctions imposed by the United States on the Arab country.
Syria's Minister of Local Administration and Environment Hussein Makhlouf on Wednesday reviewed the Syrian government’s ongoing efforts to secure a “decent” return for refugees, reconstruct the country’s infrastructure and create job opportunities.
According to the minister, those efforts are being exerted upon directives from President Bashar al-Assad and after the Syrian army troops managed to retake most of the regions once controlled by the terrorists.
Some 5.6 million Syrians have been forced to flee abroad as refugees, mostly to the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, since the eruption of a foreign-backed militancy in Syria about 10 years ago.
The Damascus government “is determined to provide all necessary services that support the return of the displaced people and refugees to their homeland,” despite the US sanctions that also hinder the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and the continued violations by the Turkish and American forces as well as the Israeli airstrikes on the Arab country, Makhlouf said at a press conference.
The US and European Union have imposed sanctions on Syria, freezing the assets of the state and hundreds of firms and individuals.
Last year, a second set of US sanctions was imposed under the so-called Caesar Act, which was signed by former President Donald Trump in December 2019.
The sanctions came as the Syrian government continued to regain lost territories, enraging the United States, which has long been collaborating with anti-Damascus militants and stealing Syria’s crude resources.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding the Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.
The government forces have already managed to undo militant gains across the country and bring back almost all of Syrian soil under government control.
Speaking at the same news conference on Wednesday, Rear Admiral Alexander Karpov, the deputy head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, stressed that intensified efforts are underway to “restore normal life” to the liberated areas in the Arab country.
Russia has been helping Syrian forces in the ongoing battles across the conflict-plagued Arab country.
The Russian military assistance, which began in September 2015 at the official request of the Syrian government, has proved effective as Syrians continue to recapture key areas from remnants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and other foreign-backed terrorist factions across the country.
Karpov noted that more than two million people have returned to their areas of origin so far.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Karpov warned of a humanitarian disaster in the de-escalation zone of Syria's northwestern province of Idlib amid an increase in violent attacks carried out by the terrorist groups against the civilians, and called for opening humanitarian crossings to enable those who want to leave the militant-held areas to cross into the safe and freed regions.
Karpov also urged Ankara to withdraw the Turkish-backed militants from the crossing points.
The Turkish government has been supporting militants since they were deployed to northeastern Syria in October 2019, when the Turkish military launched a cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push militants of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.