Kurdish-led authorities in Syria in talks over US sanctions exemption

People exchange money in the city of Idlib, Syria, Saturday, June 20, 2020. In the northwestern province of Idlib, the last remaining Syrian rebel stronghold, some people have started using the Turkish Lira instead of the Syrian pound. (AP)
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Updated 22 June 2020

Kurdish-led authorities in Syria in talks over US sanctions exemption

  • New sanctions targeting Syrian government began last week
  • Kurdish-led militia control northeastern Syria

BEIRUT: Kurdish-led authorities in northeastern Syria are in talks with their military allies in a US-led coalition on a promised exemption from US sanctions targeting the Syrian government, a senior Kurdish official said.
Washington says the sanctions, which took effect last week, mark the start of a sustained campaign of economic and political pressure on President Bashar Assad to stop the war in Syria and agree to a political solution.
Northeastern Syria is controlled by Kurdish-led militia who have helped the US-led coalition fight Islamic State, driving the jihadists out of swathes of Syrian territory.
Badran Jia Kurd, a vice president of the regional administration, said the sanctions would have an impact on his area, which trades with government-held Syria via local merchants and uses the Syrian pound, which has plunged in value.
“They will lead to an increase in prices to a very great degree and to weakness in trade activity with the Syrian interior, while on the other hand crossings to Iraq are closed, meaning the region was already living an economic siege,” Jia Kurd said.
“They told us the self-administration regions will be exempt from the Caesar sanctions but the mechanisms and means to achieve this exemption are being discussed with the international coalition.”
The sanctions are named after a Syrian military photographer who smuggled thousands of photos out of Syria showing mass killings, torture and other crimes.
A US State Department spokesperson said the United States had provided exemptions for humanitarian aid in all areas of Syria since the beginning of sanctions against the government and would remain in close coordination with its partners.
“We do not comment on the substance of private, diplomatic conversations,” the spokesperson wrote in emailed comments.
The coalition has said the sanctions do not impede humanitarian assistance or hinder “coalition stabilization activities in northeast Syria.”
The new sanctions allow for the freezing of assets of anyone dealing with Syria, regardless of nationality.


Lebanon records new coronavirus infection high

Updated 2 min 17 sec ago

Lebanon records new coronavirus infection high

  • Lebanon has recorded 2,168 infections and 36 deaths since February
  • Health Minister Hamad Hassan said the spike was partly due to expatriates who came after the airport was reopened on July

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s number of new coronavirus infections increased for a third consecutive day to a record 86, the government said on Saturday.
Lebanon has recorded 2,168 infections and 36 deaths since February.
Health Minister Hamad Hassan told Reuters on Friday the spike was partly due to expatriates who came after the airport was reopened on July 1. One infected 12 people at a wedding and another infected 12 at a funeral, he said.
A second cluster of infections had appeared among nurses and doctors and a third among refuse collectors, he said.