Iran, Syria agree to increase commercial flights amid improving economic ties
Senior officials said that Tehran and Damascus have agreed to increase commercial flights between Damascus and Tehran on 5 June, Mehr News said. The expansion of flights will also include ones carrying goods, in a bid to boost economic activities between the sanctions-hit countries.
Mehrdad Bazrpash, the Roads and Urban Development Minister, said Iran and Syria also agreed to explore various means to "revive" economic barriers between the two countries, during his state visit to Syria alongside Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
The countries have also reportedly agreed to launch shipping lines, in a bid to boost economic activities between the two countries, according to the semi-official Tasnim News agency.
The head of the Iranian Civil Aviation Organisation, Mohammad Mohammadi Bakhsh, further elaborated: "This trip was carried out under the title of the Iranian-Syrian joint committee chaired by the Minister of Roads and Urban Development, through which we agreed to transport 50,000 passengers annually between Iran and Syria by the air fleet".
Baksh added that religious tourism flights are included in the deal, with many wishing to visit the mosques of Sayyidah Ruqaya and Sayyidah Zaynab, both located in Damascus.
The shrines are important destinations for Shia Muslim pilgrims.
The chief also added that the provision for the necessary infrastructure and the relevant airlines were identified during the meeting.
"With the increase in flights between Tehran and Damascus in the field of transporting visitors and businessmen, a new chapter in Iranian-Syrian relations will begin," he added.
The increase in flights between Iran and Syria comes as President Raisi concluded a two-day trip on Friday, which he hailed as a "turning point". The visit was the first of its kind since 2010, one year before the devastating Syrian civil war began, despite the strong allyship between Damascus and Tehran.
Throughout the war, Iran helped keep the Syrian regime in power by providing economic and military aid.
The conflict, which started as a peaceful uprising against Bashar al-Assad, has killed close to 500,000 people amid a brutal crackdown on the Syrian opposition.
Millions more have been displaced both internally and externally.