Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says unjust sanctions imposed by Western countries against Damascus constitute a major obstacle on the way of fighting the ongoing deadly pandemic of the new coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
Assad made the remarks in an official meeting on Monday with Syria’s government team tasked with confronting the deadly virus and its repercussions in the Arab country.
In addition to health challenges posed by the coronavirus, there is also “an economic challenge, which we have been facing as a result of over nine years and unjust [Western] sanctions imposed on our people,” the Syrian president said.
Assad also stressed that another issue, which has added to his country’s woes amid the pandemic, is the state of global economic self-isolation and recession that is affecting many countries across the globe.
Syria has since 1979 been under unilateral and harsh economic sanctions by the United States. Since the spread of the new coronavirus in the Arab country earlier this year, Damascus has also been in great difficulty to obtain necessary medical supplies and equipment from other countries to combat the disease.
Last month, Syria’s UN ambassador sent a letter to the world body, reiterating a call by Damascus for the immediate and unconditional lifting of all the US economic sanctions.
During the official meeting on Monday, the Syrian president said the government immediately carried out a calculated series of procedures to protect citizens, including imposing a partial curfew across the country.
Assad hailed the swift response and awareness of Syrian citizens as the main factor in slowing the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
Assad also lashed out at “some greedy individuals” who exploited the pandemic and created a state of monopoly to make ludicrous earning at the expense of citizens by raising prices.
“The government must be more dynamic in dealing with these issues and act in a quick yet calculated manner to bolster the role of the public sector establishments, whether by granting them the necessary authority or changing their bylaws, so that these establishments can be more flexible and capable of positive intervention, which would have quick positive results and impact on citizens as soon as possible,” he added.
Official figures by Syria’s Health Ministry show that as of Monday, 44 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 and three others have lost their lives in the war-ravaged country.