US clarifies stance on talks with Assad amid devastating earthquake — RT World News

State Department says it would be counterproductive to reach out to nation’s leaders amid relief efforts

The United States has ruled out contacting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government despite this week’s devastating earthquake. Turkey and Syria have been offered help from many other countries around the world after the natural disaster caused massive destruction.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Monday that Washington was “a partner of the Syrian people” but claimed that it would be “Ironic, even counterproductive, for us to reach out to a government that has brutalized its people for a dozen years now.”

Instead, Price insisted that the United States had “humanitarian partners on the ground who can provide the kind of assistance in the wake of these tragic earthquakes.” He also argued that Washington had provided “more humanitarian aid to the Syrian people than any other country in the future.”

Southern Turkey and northwestern Syria were hit by a series of catastrophic earthquakes on Monday that have so far claimed more than 4,000 lives and injured tens of thousands. A number of countries have offered assistance to Ankara and Damascus, including sending teams to help with rescue efforts. Russia has already sent more than 100 emergency response specialists to the two countries.

Rescue efforts in Syria, however, have been hampered by the damage the country’s civilian infrastructure has suffered over a decade of war, as well as economic sanctions imposed by Washington.

The United States severed ties with Damascus in 2011 after nationwide protests escalated into a civil war that continues to unfold. Washington has sided with rebel factions in Syria, which include jihadists from elsewhere in the country. The Syrian government has described Washington’s aid to rebel groups as a military intervention. It is estimated that the United States and its allies control about a third of Syrian territory, including parts rich in oil and fertile land.

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