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Robert Ford

Syria says sanctions have cost country $4 billion

Syria's oil minister blamed international sanctions Wednesday for shortages of cooking gas and other basic goods, saying the measures have bled $4 billion from the nation's ailing economy.President Bashar Assad's regime must strike a delicate balance toward the U.S. and EU sanctions as it confronts a 15-month-old uprising against its rule, acknowledging their heavy toll while denying the regime's grip on power is in any way shaken.Sufian Allaw said the punitive measures were to blame for the shortages that have left Syrians across the country standing in long lines to pay inflated prices for cooking gas, fuel, sugar and other staples.The U.S. ambassador to Damascus denied that the international sanctions are to blame for the shortages facing Syrians."Our sanctions purposefully do not target oil and diesel imports, because we know that the Syrian people need both for their day-to-day lives," Ambassador Robert Ford wrote on the embassy's Facebook page.Ford said the government is using fu...

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