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US clarifies stance on talks with Assad amid devastating earthquake

The State Department claims it would be counterproductive to reach out to the leadership of the country amid relief efforts

The US has ruled out contacting the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad despite this week’s devastating earthquake. Türkiye and Syria have been offered aid from numerous other countries around the world after the natural disaster caused widespread destruction. 

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Monday that Washington is “a partner to the people of Syria” but claimed it would be “ironic, if not even counterproductive, for us to reach out to a government that has brutalized its people over the course of a dozen years now.” 

Instead, Price insisted that the US has “humanitarian partners on the ground who can provide the type of assistance in the aftermath of these tragic earthquakes.” He also argued that Washington has provided “more humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria than any other country going forward.” 

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Southern Türkiye and northwestern Syria were hit by a series of catastrophic earthquakes on Monday that have so far resulted in over 4,000 deaths and left tens of thousands of people injured. A number of countries have offered assistance to Ankara and Damascus, including sending teams to help with rescue efforts. Russia has already sent over a hundred emergency response specialists to both countries. 

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FILE PHOTO. Rescue operation in Hama Province, Syria after a powerful earthquake.
Millions to be impacted by Türkiye-Syria earthquake – WHO

Rescue efforts in Syria, however, have been hampered by damage that the country’s civilian infrastructure has sustained over the course of a decade-long war, as well as economic sanctions imposed by Washington. 

The US severed relations with Damascus back in 2011 after nationwide protests escalated into a civil war that continues to be waged. Washington has sided with rebel factions in Syria, which include jihadists that have traveled to the country from elsewhere. The Syrian government has described Washington’s assistance to rebel groups as a military intervention. The US and its allies are estimated to be in control of roughly one third of Syrian territory, including parts that are rich in oil and fertile land.

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February 07, 2023 at 07:51PM
RT

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