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Turkey-Syria quake: Damascus slams West’s discrimination, US sanctions against Syrians

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Rescuers search for survivors under the rubble, following an earthquake, in the militant-held town of Jandaris, Syria, on February 6, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Syria’s ambassador to Moscow Bashar al-Jaafari has lambasted the West’s discrimination against the Syrian people, saying more aid shipments are sent to Turkey than Syria following the devastating earthquakes that hit both countries.

Jaafari made the remarks in an interview with Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam news network on Thursday, days after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and northern Syria.

“The injured need the same help everywhere, and the people affected by the earthquake in southern Turkey and northern Syria are no different. The important thing is that even with regard to humanitarian aid, there is discrimination, not morality,” he said.

He asserted that “those who call themselves advocates of human rights are actually its main enemies.”

Jaafari also denounced US sanctions that are hampering relief work in quake-stricken areas of the Arab country, saying they are “a serious obstacle” to the flow of aid to Syria.

The disastrous earthquake hit Turkey and neighboring Syria in the wee hours of Monday. The 7.8-magnitude temblor has so far killed more than 16,000 in both countries.

As rescue efforts continue in Syria following massive earthquakes there, calls are growing for the US and its allies to remove their sanctions, which are said to be hampering international aid efforts in the country.

Syria has been a target of US sanctions since 1979. Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the US and its Western allies have dramatically tightened their economic sanctions and restrictions on the Arab country.

The US sanctions intensified with the passing of the Caesar Act in 2019, which targeted any individual and business that participated either directly or indirectly in Syria's reconstruction efforts.

So far, the US and its allies have resisted calls for creating a political opening and have ruled out the possibility of dealing directly with the Syrian government in quake relief efforts.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday that Washington will send aid to Syria through non-governmental organizations without engaging with the Syrian government, which it opposes.

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