UNGA 2021: Syria wants foreign forces out

Faisal Mekdad says that Turkey and the US are looting his country's natural resources and that reform should be Syrian-led

Syria's foreign minister Faisal Mekdad addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters. AP Photo
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Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, who represents the regime of Bashar Al Assad, used his time at the UN General Assembly on Monday to demand that foreign forces be expelled from his country, taking a special aim at Turkey and the US.

“The Turkish regime has perpetrated and continues to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity in the territories of Syria that it occupies,” he said.

This comes after Turkey sent reinforcements to rebel-held Afrin in north-west Syria following an increase in Russian air strikes in the area.

Turkey has conducted several operations inside Syria since 2016, which have altered the course of the decade-long conflict.

Mr Mekdad accused Turkey of pursuing the “Turkification” of north-west Syria.

The foreign minister also called for the full withdrawal of US troops from the country.

“Turkish and US forces continue to occupy Syrian territories under false pretexts and they're looting the natural resources of the Syrian people. [This] should end immediately without any preconditions,” he said.

Mr Mekdad told the UN that Syria always drives out occupiers “sooner or later".

He said going forward, solutions to the conflict and to issues within the country must be led by Syrians.

He also said that sanctions have exacerbated the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in his and other heavily sanctioned countries.

“If Covid-19 would claim one life in the absence of so-called sanctions, it would claim so many more when they are in place,” said Mr Mekdad in his address to the assembly in New York.

Mr Mekdad cited Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Sudan, along with Syria, as having been adversely affected by the combination of Covid-19 and sanctions.

Updated: September 28, 2021, 7:14 AM