Syria's Assad makes first official visit to Aleppo since devastating war began

Syria's Assad makes first official visit to Aleppo since devastating war began
Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad visited a major power plant in the war-ravaged northern province of Aleppo for the first time since Syria's conflict began in 2011.
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This is Assad's first visit to Aleppo province since the Syrian conflict began [Getty]

Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad on Friday visited the heavily damaged northern province of Aleppo - his first trip in 11 years of war.

He visited a major power plant in the countryside of the province's east to supervise its partial relaunch after war damage.

Assad was also present for the relaunch of a water pumping station, statements from the Syrian regime said on the Telegram messaging app.

"Aleppo governorate has suffered from terrorism and sabotage more than any other governorate. The people of Aleppo have a right to benefit from these repairs the most," Assad claimed, according to one of the statements.

Aleppo province was the scene of fierce battles between regime forces and rebels from 2012 until the Syrian regime forced them out.

Assad's 2016 victory in Aleppo city - backed by Russian military force - was a turning point in the war.

The city is considered Syria's economic heart.

Electricity networks and other infrastructure across the country were ravaged by the war which is estimated to have killed nearly half a million people and displaced millions, mostly as a result of regime and Russian bombardment of civilian areas.

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The Syrian regime does not have authority over all of Aleppo province, with areas on the Turkish border still controlled by Ankara-backed groups and the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces. Opposition forces also control the province's western countryside.

The recently rehabilitated part of the power station, one of the country's largest, will generate 200 Megawatts of electricity for the province, the regime said.

In 2021, Aleppo's state-run electricity company announced the power station will be rehabilitated with support from Iran, another major Assad ally.

Tehran signed several agreements with Damascus in 2017 to improve the production and distribution of electricity in war-ravaged Syria.

The deals included the rehabilitation of the Aleppo power plant, building a power station in Latakia, as well as repair and maintenance work in other regions.