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Iran Signs Deals To Repair Syria's Power Grid, Infrastructure

Syria


RFL/RE -
 Iran has signed a series of deals and memorandums of understanding with Damascus to repair Syria's electrical-power infrastructure, state media report, giving the Islamic republic a potential foothold in war-torn Syria's eventual rebuilding process.


Syrian state-run SANA news agency reported that the deals were inked on September 12 during a visit by Syrian Electricity Minister Zuhair Kharboutli to Tehran.

They include restoring the main control center for the electricity grid in the capital, Damascus, and helping to restore full power to the northern city of Aleppo.

The accords could lead to Iran playing a major role in rebuilding the country's infrastructure, Kharboutli said during the signing ceremony.

Iran, along with Russia, has backed President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's six-year-old civil war against U.S.- and Turkish-backed rebels and in the fight against the extremist group Islamic State (IS).

Thousands of troops from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have fought alongside Syrian government troops and suffered heavy casualties in the war against rebels and IS militants.

Damascus is also likely to turn to Russian and Chinese firms to help rebuild the country's infrastructure, although the future of Assad's government is not assured, with Western powers pushing for his eventual removal.

Kharboutli, the Syrian electricity minister, said the two countries signed a deal in which Iranian company Mabna will sell five gas-fired power plants to the heavily damaged city of Aleppo for about 130 million euros ($155 million).

In addition, Kharboutli signed memorandums of understanding with Iran's acting energy minister, Sattar Mahmoudi, that would provide for Iranian participation in the restoration of electricity plants in the coastal province of Latakia, Deir al-Zour, and Homs, and the construction of several wind and solar plants.

Mahmoudi, on the Energy Ministry website, said, "We will stand by the Syrian people to rebuild this country.... We will bring light to houses of the Syrian people.

Iran has made inroads in other areas of Syria's economy, signing agreements to operate a new cell-phone system and gaining concessions on farming land, oil and gas, and phosphate mining.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and Mehr