On Monday, Syria’s foreign minister addressed the UN General Assembly in New York and called on the US to end its military occupation of eastern Syria.
The US currently has about 900 troops stationed in eastern Syria and backs Kurdish forces in the region. This presence allows the US to control about one-third of Syria’s territory, an area where most of the country’s oil and wheat resources are located.
Officially, the US maintains that its presence in the country is about fighting ISIS, but the Syrian government rejects that notion. “Fighting terrorism does not happen through an illegitimate international coalition that violates Syria’s sovereignty and destroys towns and villages,” Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said at UN headquarters.
On top of the occupation, the US also maintains crippling economic sanctions on Syria. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously said that these sanctions are meant to prevent Syria’s reconstruction until there is a political settlement in Syria, meaning regime change in Damascus.
Mekdad discussed the sanctions on Syria, saying the country has been “economically besieged” by Western powers. “The war against Syria, ultimately, was an attempt by the West to maintain control over the world,” he said.
The situation in eastern Syria highlights the hypocrisy of the US, as President Biden’s address to the General Assembly focused on accusing Russia of violating the UN Charter by taking Ukraine’s territory.
“Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the United Nations Charter — no more important than the clear prohibition against countries taking the territory of their neighbor by force,” Biden said in his speech last week.