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Damascus slams EU sanctions as ‘threat’ to quake-hit Syrians

By AFP - Apr 25,2023 - Last updated at Apr 25,2023

DAMASCUS — Syria on Tuesday condemned fresh European sanctions against individuals and entities linked to President Bashar Assad’s government, arguing the measures impeded aid to areas affected by a devastating earthquake.

The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on 25 individuals and eight entities accused of involvement in human rights violations and drug trafficking in the war-torn country.

The bloc said in a statement that the sanctions “are not meant to impede the provision humanitarian assistance to any part of the country”, which was hit by a deadly quake on February 6.

A Syrian foreign ministry official accused the EU of “repeating lies” by “claiming sanctions on Syria do not impede the delivery of humanitarian aid or access to food and medical equipment”, according to Syria’s official news agency SANA.

The measures are “a serious threat to the lives and livelihood of Syrians”, the official said.

Following Western allies the United States and Britain, the bloc sanctioned Samer Kamal Assad and Wassem Badi Assad, the president’s cousins, over alleged involvement in the trafficking of stimulant drug captagon, a key source of income for Damascus.

The EU also imposed sanctions against others including private security firms for helping the Syrian regime recruit fighters, and Russian engineering and construction company Stroytransgaz over its control of the country’s largest phosphate mines.

On February 23, the EU had said it would ease Syria sanctions for six months to speed up aid deliveries to the quake-stricken country, after the US announced a similar move.

But the Syrian foreign ministry official on Tuesday dismissed that measure as having “no effect at all, it is purely propaganda”.

The EU has sanctioned Syria’s government and individuals and entities linked to it following Damascus’s repression of protesters more than a decade ago.

Syria’s war since 2011 has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions.

 

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