Report Of Moscow-Printed Currency In Circulation In Syria 'Not Surprising' To US

The United States has said a report that Syria has released new cash into circulation and that it was printed in Moscow is "not surprising."

Responding to a question during a press briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said she did not have any information on that.

"I can say that obviously you are all seeing what we are seeing, which is that the Syrian economy is in free-fall as a result of the international sanctions, that they are suffering from very high inflation, that the Assad regime has run through more than half of the national reserves of the country," she told reporters. "So if they are now resorting to inflating their own currency to survive, that wouldn't be surprising," she added.

Nuland said the Syrian economy was in free-fall because of the international sanctions as well as the ongoing civil war. "The wealth of the nation is being directed at killing its own rather than at providing for the people," she said.

Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday quoting bankers in the capital Damascus that Syria had released new cash into circulation to finance its fiscal deficit, after violence and sanctions wiped out the country's revenues and led to a severe economic contraction.

The currency printed in Russia was circulating in trial amounts in Damascus and Aleppo reportedly to pay salaries and other government expenses, which economists say could increase inflation and worsen the economic crisis.

Even though a ceasefire brokered by U.N.-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan is in force, crackdown by security forces continued to put down the uprising against the Assad regime that broke out 15 months ago.

According to the U.N., more than 10,000 people have been killed in fighting between security forces and pro-democracy protesters backed by Army deserters.

Reports quoting Opposition activists continue to emerge that scores of civilians, including women and children, are being killed by Syrian pro-government forces, but Syrian State TV claims the casualties are "terrorists" killed by troops.

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