Syrian transport minister says U.S.-led coalition involved in destruction of roads, bridges

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The U.S.-led international coalition is involved in the destruction of Syrian transport infrastructure, including dozens of bridges and roads, Syrian Transport Minister Ali Hammoud has said.

Hammoud told Sputnik in an interview: “over 50 vital bridges were destroyed in a systematic deliberate way, they were chosen as strategic targets by terrorists … until the so called U.S. coalition air force arrived to support them by conducting a number of air strikes and destroying several other bridges.”

He noted that the coalition forces destroyed a bridge at the entrance to the city of Aleppo, as well as in Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa, Daraa and across the Idlib-Ariha-Latakia highway.

The minister stressed that Syria used to have one of the best road networks in the Middle East, with an approximate length of 8,400 km, before the start of the conflict in the country.

“This large-scale destruction of roads, passages and bridges resulted in destruction of all the land roads to the eastern and northern districts since 2011 up to the present time,” the minister said.

Hammoud said the large-scale destruction hampered delivery of goods and medicines and deprived the regions of any economic and industrial activity.

According to Hammoud, the actions of both the terrorists and coalition have resulted in some regions becoming cut off, while numerous roadside bombs have killed “thousands innocent people.”

The Syrian civil war has been raging since 2011, being fought between government troops and numerous opposition and terrorist organisations, such as the Islamic State (IS), outlawed in Russia.

The U.S. is leading a coalition of 68 nations aimed at defeating the IS operating in Iraq and Syria.

The minister also said Syria has lost more than two-thirds of its railways due to the destructive actions of terrorist groups, and seen a dramatic decrease in the number of marine transport operations.

“Concerning the railway network, whose length amounted to 2,450 km, terrorists destroyed 17 bridges. Almost 1,800 km are almost fully destroyed, which had a negative impact on railway cargo traffic,” Hammoud said.

The minister said that terrorists staged explosions on railways and stole parts from trains, causing crashes.

He also accused Turkey of supporting terrorists in Syria.

The minister then noted the decline in sea transportation, adding also that the volume of goods delivered to Syria by sea has decreased from 24 million to nine million tonnes.

“The number of ships accepted by Syrian ports reduced from 4,614 per year before the war to 1,554 ships per year during the war,” Hammoud said.

Syria has been engulfed in a civil war for over six years with the government troops fighting against numerous opposition factions as well as terrorist groups.

Iran, as well as Russia, support Syrian President Bashar Assad and regard his government as the only legitimate authority in Syria.

Western countries have consistently called on him to step down. (Sputnik/NAN)