BEIRUT (AP) — Syria on Saturday lambasted the U.S. government for sanctions it has imposed on Damascus, following a U.N. special rapporteur’s statement that called on Washington to remove unilateral sanctions against the war-torn country.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry described U.S. sanctions against the country as equal to “crimes against humanity” that impact the life of normal citizens as the country looks to rebuild after 10 years of civil war.
The U.S. has imposed sanctions for years on Syrian President Bashar Assad and a number of his top officials. Measures that went into effect in June will also allow U.S. authorities to target foreign companies that do business with some Syrian state institutions.
On Tuesday, U.N. human rights expert Alena Douhan called on the United States to lift its unilateral sanctions “which may inhibit rebuilding of Syria’s civilian infrastructure” destroyed by the conflict that has killed about half a million people.
Douhan, who is the U.N. special rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights, said American sanctions “violate the human rights of the Syrian people.”
Speaking on Wednesday, the U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn rejected Douhan’s statement as “misguided and false.”
He said that the blame for Syria’s economic situation and humanitarian crisis falls on “Assad’s brutal war against the Syrian people, not on U.S. sanctions.”
Areas under government control in Syria have been suffering from a severe shortage of bread and fuel that Damascus blames on Washington. In some areas, people have to stand in line for hours outside bakeries to get bread, the main staple in the country.
Alongside being hit hard by sanctions, the Syrian economy has suffered for many years because of widespread corruption and recently as a result of a severe economic and financial crisis in neighboring Lebanon.