The US promised help after the earthquake, but there is no contact with Syria’s Assad News about earthquakes

The United States has said it is “committed” to helping residents “on both sides” of the Turkish-Syrian border devastated by the deadly earthquakes, but Washington has ruled out direct contact with the Syrian government.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Monday that the US will deliver aid to Syria through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) without engaging with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, which it does not recognize as legitimate.

“It would be quite ironic — if not counterproductive — to reach out to a government that has brutalized its own people for a dozen years,” Price said.

“Instead, we have humanitarian partners on the ground who can provide the kind of assistance that comes after these tragic earthquakes.”

Two earthquakes, followed by powerful aftershocks, struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday, causing widespread destruction and trapping thousands under rubble.

According to the latest estimates, more than 3,600 people have been killed in Turkey and Syria, and that number is expected to rise.

Price said on Monday that the US had already mobilized aid to help those affected in both countries.

But the disaster appears to have done little to soften Washington’s attitude toward Damascus. The US government called on Assad to step down in 2011 when a popular uprising turned into a protracted civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Syria.

Although some US allies in the Middle East have improved ties with Damascus in recent years, Washington has said it will not change its opposition to Assad without an inclusive political solution to the conflict.

The Syrian government remains under heavy US sanctions aimed at isolating the country economically in response to widely documented human rights abuses.

On Monday, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a US-based advocacy group, called for the “immediate” lifting of US sanctions to facilitate the delivery of aid to Syria.

“We commend and thank existing organizations on the ground providing immediate humanitarian aid and relief to those in Syria, Turkey and across the region. The reality is that more aid and relief is needed, and time is of the essence,” ADC CEO Abed Ayoub said in a statement.

“The lifting of sanctions will open the door for more and more aid to provide immediate relief to those in need.”

But Price said Washington would not change its policy of working with non-governmental partners to help Syrians. “This is a regime that has never shown any inclination to put the welfare, well-being, interests of its people first,” he told reporters.

“Now that his people are suffering even more, we will continue to do what has proven effective over the past decade – providing significant amounts of humanitarian aid to partners on the ground.”

Price also said the process of delivering aid to Syria and Turkey is different, but the US wants to help people in both countries.

“In Turkey, we have a partner in the government. In Syria, we have a partner in the form of non-governmental organizations on the ground that provide humanitarian support,” he said.

Price added that Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier Monday to express his condolences and convey that Washington is willing to provide “everything” Ankara needs.

“We stand ready … to assist our ally in a time of need,” Price said, adding that the same attitude applies to Syrian NGOs in “their efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.”

Early Monday, President Joe Biden said he had ordered top U.S. officials to contact their Turkish counterparts to coordinate “any and all assistance necessary” to NATO partner Turkey.

“Today, our hearts and our deepest condolences go out to all those who have lost loved ones, those who have been injured and those who have seen their homes and businesses destroyed,” Biden said in a statement.

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