Iran to recover war losses by exploiting Syria natural resources, says top military adviser
Iran will recover the costs of its investments in the Syria war by exploiting the war-torn country's natural resources, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top military adviser has said.
Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi told the conservative Mehr news agency on Saturday that Tehran was attempting to recoup losses it has incurred while backing its ally the Syrian regime in the conflict.
"Iran needs to recover costs it has incurred in Syria. Syrians are also willing to do so through their oil, gas and phosphate mines. Currently Iran is exporting phosphate from Syrian mines," Safavi said.
"The reconstruction of Syria will take several years and cost between $300 billion to $400 billion," he said, adding that Tehran should sign long-term political and economic agreements with Damascus such as Russia has done.
Safavi added that the Russian-Iranian alliance prevented the defeat of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with its military assistance.
Anti-government protests in Iran in December focused partly on Tehran's costly proxy wars in the region and called for a withdrawal from Syria.
Russia, the Syrian regime's main backer, last week announced plans to help Damascus relaunch its devastated energy industry.
Russia has committed itself to aiding in the country's reconstruction.
In December a Russian business and political delegation visited Damascus to discuss investment and reconstruction with Assad, including oil and gas projects but also electricity, phosphates, transport and trade.
"Syria is a land of unlimited riches," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who led the delegation, said at the time.
Russia, Iran and Lebanese militant group Hizballah intervened in the Syrian conflict in support of Assad.
Syria's nearly seven-year war, which began as the regime brutally crushed anti-government protests, has claimed more than 340,000 lives, forced millions to flee their homes and left the country in ruins.