Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations and its deputy foreign minister, Bashar al-Jaafari, demanded the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from the country that are illegally occupying parts of Syrian territory and plundering the country’s oil and gas resources. He was speaking at a virtual conference of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, January 20.
Al-Jaafari also accused the US of aiding and supporting terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra who still control parts of Syria’s Idlib province, in their attacks on the Syrian people. He alleged that occupation forces and terrorist groups act together to loot Syria’s economic resources or burn and plunder items when confronted, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.
Apart from operating from several temporary bases in Syria’s oil rich northeast, the US has an illegal military base at al-Tanf in the Homs province near the Jordanian border. It has maintained that the base acts as an outpost in the war against ISIS. Though the exact number of US troops in the country is not known, according to various estimates, it stands at around 900. The Syrian government had termed the presence of the US troops and its base at al-Tanf an illegal occupation.
Jaafari asked the newly-elected US president, Joe Biden, to end its illegal occupation and change its policies towards Syria. He also criticized the sanctions imposed by America and various European countries against Syria, claiming that they have seriously affected the country’s re-construction efforts and its fight against coronavirus. He termed the US occupation and its sanctions against Syria as violations of the UN charter.
He also stressed that Syria is counting on the crucial support provided by the group of 77 countries and China to end the theft and plunder of its resources.
The UN has already warned about the ill effects of European and American sanctions on Syria last month. The US sanctions against Syria, instead of being relaxed during the pandemic, became tighter and broader with the introduction of the so-called Caesar Act passed in the US Congress in June last year.
The US sanctions against Syria were first imposed during the vice-presidency of Joe Biden who also designed the policy of American support to anti-Assad forces in the country intensifying the war which began in 2011. Biden’s stance on Syria as president is not yet clear.
The war in Syria devastated what was one of the most stable countries in the region with almost half of its 20 million population forced to become refugees and led to hundreds of thousands of fatalities.