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Hezbollah slams international bias against Syria, sends aid convoys to quake-hit areas

The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement says it has sent convoys of humanitarian aid to earthquake-hit areas in Syria in the wake of a devastating earthquake that occurred after years of crippling Western sanctions targeting the Arab country.

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem told Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Manar television network on Tuesday that countries around the world must rush to send rescue workers, equipment and aid to help victims of the earthquake.


He offered his sincere condolences to the Syrian nation and government, saying his group has dispatched convoys of humanitarian aid to quake-stricken areas in Syria.


A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria early Monday, killing and injuring thousands of people and reducing many buildings to rubble.


Rescue workers are still working in freezing temperatures to find those still trapped under debris with the latest death toll nearing 8,400.


The huge earthquake brought down whole apartment blocks in Turkish cities and piled more devastation on millions of Syrians displaced by years of war.


Sheikh Qassem argued that US sanctions, backed by most Arab countries, are hampering relief and rescue operations, adding that the coercive measures run contrary to the fundamental humanitarian principles.


The top Hezbollah official stressed that the West must realize that Syrians are all united in the fight against Takfiri militant groups, and that the nation will not accept any foreign diktats.


He also underscored that Hezbollah stands by the side of Syria and Turkey in the aftermath of the tragic incident.


Earlier on Tuesday, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) called on the United States and the European Union to lift the siege and economic sanctions against Syria, which are severely hampering relief work in quake-stricken areas of the country.


Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has also highlighted Syria’s need for humanitarian assistance after the earthquake, warning that US sanctions have worsened the circumstances as the illegal bans have prevented the delivery of everything to the country.


“What exacerbated the tragedy and catastrophe was the sanctions imposed by the United States and Western countries on Syria,” Mekdad said on Tuesday.


“While Americans claim they did not impose sanctions on humanitarian aid, we tell them that your sanctions prevent everything from Syria, including the purchase of medicines, just as Washington and its Western allies give orders to some countries, and threaten them with sanctions if they deal with Syria or any Syrian banks,” he added.


Syria has been in the throes of foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. While Daesh Takfiri terrorist group was crushed by the Syrian government, militant outfits continue to hold sway in some parts of the country under the patronage of Western powers.