By Rabia Iclal Turan
WASHINGTON (AA) - The US ambassador to the UN said Monday she is "deeply saddened" by the loss of life after two major earthquakes struck Türkiye and Syria, adding her country is "ready to provide assistance."
"As humanitarian agencies work to respond, the United States stands ready to provide assistance to those affected by the disaster," Linda Thomas-Greenfield wrote in a statement.
Recalling her past visits to the Türkiye-Syria border to meet with humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), she said "the situation was already fragile, with Türkiye generously hosting over 3.5 million Syrian refugees."
"Medical facilities in Syria have long been strained beyond capacity. These earthquakes compound the crises faced by vulnerable Syrians, as well as the challenges faced by UN agencies and NGOs providing assistance," she said.
"My thoughts are also with the families of those across Türkiye who have lost loved ones as a result of this horrific tragedy," she added.
"President (Joe) Biden has authorized an immediate U.S. response, and I echo the UN Secretary-General's call to the international community to urgently increase critical funding and assistance to help those affected," she said.
Earlier in the day, Biden spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which he reaffirmed the readiness of the US to provide any and all needed assistance.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Monday that the US is "in the process of deploying" two 79-person teams in addition to personnel already on the ground "to support Turkish search and rescue efforts and to help address the needs of all those who have been hurt or displaced by the earthquake."
At least 2,921 people were killed and 15,834 others injured in 10 provinces of Türkiye due to two strong earthquakes that jolted the southern part of the country, an official from the nation’s disaster agency said early Tuesday.
In Syria, government and rescue officials reported that at least 1,300 people were killed and over 2,400 others were injured in the quakes.