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U.S. to provide additional $720 million for Syria crisis response

WASHINGTON, Sept 24 (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it would provide more than $720 million in humanitarian assistance for the response to the crisis in Syria.

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun made the announcement at an event on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. He said the money would go “both for Syrians inside the country and for those in desperate need across the region.”

He said the funds would bring total U.S. support since the start of the crisis to more than $12 billion.

A crackdown by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on protesters in 2011 led to civil war, with Iran and Russia backing the government and the United States supporting the opposition. Millions of people have fled Syria and millions more have been internally displaced.

In July, the United States imposed new sanctions aimed at cutting off funds for Assad’s government.

Syrian authorities blame Western sanctions for widespread civilian hardship in the country, where a collapse of the currency has led to soaring prices and people struggling to afford food and basic supplies.

The United States says its sanctions on Syria are not intended to harm the people and do not target humanitarian assistance. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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