November 2, 2019 / 10:40 AM / a month ago

Iran strikes initial deal to rebuild Syrian power grid

FILE PHOTO: Iran's national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012, a day before the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran signed a preliminary agreement with Syria on Saturday to help rebuild the Arab ally’s electricity grid, Iranian state media reported, as Tehran seeks a deepening economic role after years of the Syrian conflict.

A memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries’ electricity ministers in Tehran covered the construction of power plants, transmission lines, cutting losses in Syria’s electricity network, and the possibility of connecting the two countries’ grids through Iraq, the state news agency IRNA said.

The report did not give the value of the deal. IRNA quoted Syrian Electricity Minister Mohammad Zuhair Kharboutli as saying the country’s grid had suffered damages of 50 percent and that “Iran’s role is important” in the reconstruction.

Shunned by Western powers, the Syrian government has looked to friendly states such as Iran, Russia and China to play a major role in rebuilding the country, as the war heads toward its ninth year.

Since at least 2012, Iran has provided critical military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, helping it regain control of swathes of the country. Iran experts have said Tehran is now hoping to reap a financial dividend.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Clelia Oziel

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