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US delegation visits rebel-held areas in Syria

Three Republican lawmakers visit Syria to highlight the catastrophe, they said
A convoy transporting a delegation of US representatives arrives through Syria's Bab al-Salama crossing with Turkey as part of their visit to the rebel-held areas of Aleppo province, on 27 August 2023.
A convoy transporting a delegation of US representatives arrives at Syria's Bab al-Salama crossing with Turkey, on 27 August 2023 (AFP)

A delegation of US lawmakers travelled to rebel-held territory in northwestern Syria in the past several days to highlight the catastrophic reality, in a rare congressional trip to the war-torn country.

The delegation comprised of three US Congress members including Ben Cline, Scott Fitzgerald, and French Hill, all of whom belong to the Republican Party.

Congresswoman Victoria Spartz was set to visit, but it did not work out with the delegation’s itinerary, her office said.

“The situation in Syria is tragic and the international community needs to step up. We are glad to see that Rep Hill was able to visit at least briefly to bring some attention to the issue, but it requires some serious actions and leadership, as well as the situation we are seeing in Sudan,” Spartz’s office told MEE.

The delegation crossed into Syria from Turkey through the Bab al-Salama border post. They made a stop at a hospital in Azaz, located in the Aleppo district, and interacted with children orphaned by the Syrian war, a tragic event that has claimed over 500,000 lives since its onset in 2011.

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“The Syrian people have endured more than a decade of war, murder, and torture. It is imperative that nations across the globe, including the United States, work together to provide humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and to counter the Assad regime,” Hill said.

Hill and his delegation met with children from a kindergarten in the northern Aleppo region, along with displaced Syrians, figures from the opposition, and humanitarian aid professionals.

Syria: Protests spread over dire economic and living conditions
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Due to safety concerns, the delegation’s visit was cut short to 30 minutes, AFP reported.

The congressional delegation also met with the White Helmets rescue service, which shared photos of the meetings on Twitter, now called X.

Last week, hundreds of protesters gathered in southern Syria to demand the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and call for improved living conditions.

Increased fuel prices after the government's decision to cut fuel subsidies last week have exacerbated already dire economic conditions amid hyperinflation triggered by the collapse of the lira.

Although the demonstrations began over fuel costs, the protestors soon demanded improved living standards and the liberation of political detainees, and voiced their criticisms against perceived corruption and ineffective governance.

*An earlier version of this story stated that two congressional delegations travelled to Syria. The second one, however, did not travel to the country.

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