Assad to 'punish profiteering traders'

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on a balcony overlooking the Syrian capital of Damascus during an interview Sunday, November 30, 2003.
BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar 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.اضافة اعلان

The fall of the currency, which has rebounded somewhat since hitting 4,000 to the US 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."