BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday that traders profiting from the collapse of the Syrian pound, which hit an all-time low this month, would be punished.
The fall of the currency, which has rebounded somewhat since hitting 4,000 to the U.S. dollar, has driven up inflation. Syrians have struggled to afford food and power.
In a video shared by his office, Assad spoke of a battle that requires Syrians to stick by the state, and said traders could not justify changing prices within hours.
“It is no less important than the military battle … If the citizen does not stand by state institutions in this war, the institutions will lose,” he told a meeting of cabinet ministers.
“Any trader benefiting now is a thief,” he said. “It is imperative that we intervene, and with force.”
While Damascus has reclaimed much of Syria from insurgents with Russia and Iran’s help, the economy has been ravaged by 10 years of war, tightening U.S. sanctions and a financial collapse in neighbouring Lebanon.
(Reporting by Kinda Makieh in Damascus and Ellen Francis in Beirut; Editing by Kevin Liffey)