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US eases Syria sanctions to enable humanitarian aid 

February 11, 2023 at 2:04 pm

Search and rescue efforts continue after 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit Besnaya district of Idlib, Syria on February 09, 2023 [Kasım Rammah/Anadolu Agency]

The US announced on Thursday easing its sanctions imposed on Syria to allow the flow of humanitarian aid to reach bereaved Syrians after the deadly earthquakes that hit parts of Turkiye and Syria.

In a statement, the US Treasury Department said it issued a license that authorises all transactions for 180 days related to earthquake relief that would otherwise be prohibited by the Syrian sanctions regulations.

“As international allies and humanitarian partners mobilise to help those affected, I want to make very clear that US sanctions in Syria will not stand in the way of life-saving efforts for the Syrian people,” Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo confirmed.

He added: “While US sanctions programmes already contain robust exemptions for humanitarian efforts, today Treasury is issuing a blanket General License to authorise earthquake relief efforts so that those providing assistance can focus on what’s needed most: saving lives and rebuilding.”

READ: UK presses UN to open new aid routes into Syria amid earthquake crisis

Anadolu Agency reported that the road to northwest Syria from Turkiye was damaged following the two devastating earthquakes, which temporarily disrupted humanitarian assistance into quake-hit, rebel-held areas.

The first United Nations (UN) aid consisted of six trucks carrying medicines, blankets, tents and UN shelter kits, and crossed through Bab Al-Hawa crossing from Turkiye into northwest Syria on Thursday.

The death toll of the two strong earthquakes has exceeded 20,000 in Turkiye, and the number of wounded has surpassed 72,879, Turkish sources confirmed on Saturday.

In Syria, more than 3,100 people have died from the earthquakes, according to figures compiled by Syria’s Health Ministry and the Syrian White Helmets civil defence group, Anadolu Agency reported.