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Iran rejects U.S. sanctions on Syria, vows to boost trade with ally

FILE PHOTO: Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani meets with Syrian parliament speaker Hammouda Sabbagh in Damascus, Syria February 16, 2020. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki/

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran on Thursday condemned as inhumane a fresh round of U.S. sanctions against its regional ally Syria and said it would expand its trade ties with Damascus.

The United States on Wednesday imposed its toughest sanctions targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to choke off revenue for his government and force it back to U.N.-led negotiations on ending his country’s war.

“As the world is involved with the Corona pandemic, the imposition of such inhumane sanctions will only exacerbate the suffering of the Syrian people,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state media.

“We will continue our economic cooperation with the resilient Syrian nation and Syria’s government, and despite these sanctions, we will strengthen our economic relations with Syria,” Mousavi said.

Separately, Iran welcomed a two-day debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council this week about alleged U.S. police brutality and racial discrimination.

“Systemic racism, police brutality & violence against peaceful protests represent just the tip of the iceberg. It’s high time (the world) works for the US regime’s human rights accountability at home & abroad,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a Twitter post.

Iran, which itself faces heavy U.S. sanctions, is a close ally of Assad. Tehran has sent thousands of fighters to back the Syrian central government, including Iranian-trained Shi’ite militias whose members are from Afghanistan and other countries.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom, Editing by William Maclean