The Syrian Foreign Ministry criticized on Friday a US decision to allow some foreign investments in areas in northern Syria outside the government’s control, and vowed to “defeat” the move.
On Thursday, the US Treasury approved investment activities in 12 sectors, including agriculture, construction and finance, in what it said was a strategy to defeat Islamic State through economic stabilization.
The resolution does not allow any dealings with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or other entities blacklisted by the United States during the 11-year-old Syrian war.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said that Damascus was “determined to defeat this new conspiracy” and urged citizens in the north of the country to “bring it down.”
The ministry described the decision as part of a “destructive” policy pursued by the United States in Syria.
Damascus blames Western sanctions for the severe economic crisis the country is going through, as the collapse of the currency’s value has led to huge price increases, making citizens struggle to provide food and other basic commodities.
Syrian and allied forces regained most of the territory lost during years of fierce battles after anti-Assad protests turned into a brutal conflict.
Turkey-backed opposition groups control parts of Syria in the northwest, while most of the country’s northeast is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
Northeast Syria contains a lot of oil reserves and wheat production, while northwest Syria was an agricultural and industrial area in an earlier period.
The US decision allows purchases of petroleum products such as gasoline in the region, but does not allow transactions with the government or individuals subject to sanctions or the import of Syrian petroleum products into the United States.
In a telephone conversation with reporters, US officials rejected assurances that the US move could be seen as a boost to the efforts of some Arab countries to end Assad’s isolation, and reiterated that Washington had no intention of lifting sanctions imposed on him.
Otherwise, officials insisted, economic development would thwart attempts by remnants of the Islamic State to recruit new members.