DAMASCUS, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Syrian Health Minister Nizar Yazigi on Monday urged the lift of the Western sanctions on Syria for the country to protect its health security amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the state news agency SANA reported.

Yazigi said the medical teams in Syria are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic "with bravery in exceptional circumstances" as the country has suffered from more than a nine-year-long war amid sanctions imposed by the United States and its Western allies.

The sanctions are "inhuman" and prevent the medical sector in Syria from responding to the pandemic and securing the necessary needs and tools for protection and diagnosis, he added.

The minister made the remarks as Washington is close to implementing the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, a U.S. law that sanctions the Syrian government including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for its alleged war crimes against the Syrian people.

The Caesar Act, expected to be implemented in June, also includes sanctions on any side that might be aiding the Syrian government.