Syria’s Assad, Iran's Zarif say US trying to use COVID-19 pandemic with political aims

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria  and the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday condemned the refusal of the US and Western states to lift unilateral sanctions against several states in the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Two leaders made this statement during a meeting with in Damascus, quoted by SANA news agency.

"Sadly, the US and several other states are using this epidemic with political aims," al-Assad said.

They called on the U.S. to lift sanctions imposed on both countries . Tehran has been a close ally of  Damascus in Syria's long and bloody nine-year-long civil war.

Zarif said America had shown its inhumane face to the world by refusing to lift sanctions during the pandemic.

"Even in these strictly humanitarian conditions, they have failed to lift the sanctions." Assad said.

He noted that this approach exposes the amorality of Western ruling circles. "The coronavirus has shown that these governments are acting in the interest of those in power and not in the interest of their own people," the Syrian leader stressed.

SANA informed that al-Assad had expressed his condolences to Iran over the consequences of the coronavirus epidemic in the country.

Tehran has documented about 83,500 cases of the novel coronavirus, with at least 5,209 deaths. Syria has reported only 39 cases of the virus and two deaths.

Globally, over 2,414,000 people have been infected and more than 165,000 deaths have been reported, according to the latest statistics.

So far, over 629,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.

Authorities in Tehran began Monday a gradual easing of its lockdown to stimulate its sanctions-choked economy, gambling that it has brought under control its coronavirus outbreak.

Syria and Iran are both under American sanctions that they both say are affecting their fight against the virus by limiting some humanitarian imports.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that Zarif will discuss with Assad and other Syrian officials bilateral relations and developments in the region.

Russia, Iran and Turkey, who back rival groups in Syria’s conflict, have been sponsoring talks in Kazakhstan to try to end the conflict that has killed nearly half a million people.

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