UNGA 2020: Syria accuses US of using sanctions to suffocate Syrians 'like George Floyd'

New US sanctions took effect in Syria in June

In this image made from UNTV video, Syria's Deputy Prime Minister Walid Muallem speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, at U.N. headquarters. (UNTV via AP)
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Syria's foreign minister has accused US President Donald Trump's administration of attempting to suffocate Syrians with sanctions "just like George Floyd and others were cruelly suffocated in the United States".

New US sanctions that took effect in June under the Caesar Act have further crippled the war-torn country's already crumbling economy by prohibiting foreign companies trading with Damascus.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly via a pre-recorded video on Saturday, Syria's Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Walid Al Moualem likened the effect of the sanctions to the death of George Floyd, a Black American who died in May after a police officer knelt on his neck.

"The real purpose of the Act is to put pressure on Syrians, their livelihoods, and their daily lives," he said.

"It is an inhumane attempt to suffocate Syrians, just like George Floyd and others were cruelly suffocated in the United States."

The US mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In June, Russia also made a veiled reference to Mr Floyd's death, which sparked protests across the United States and around the world, when it slammed US policy toward Iran as like "putting a knee" to the country's neck.

Washington says the sanctions aim to cut revenue for Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's government and push him back into UN-led talks to end the more than eight-year-long conflict.

A crackdown by Mr Assad on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 led to civil war, with Moscow backing Mr Assad and Washington supporting the opposition.

Millions of people have fled Syria and millions are internally displaced.