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Iran inks deals to repair Syria's war-hit power grid

© AFP/File | This file pictures taken on on January 30, 2017 shows a worker fixing electricity cables damaged during fighting on the outskirts of the Syrian capital

TEHRAN (AFP) - 

Tehran has signed several agreements with its ally Damascus to improve the production and distribution of electricity in war-ravaged Syria, officials in Iran and Syrian state media said Wednesday.

The deals were signed in Tehran by Syrian Electricity Minister Mohammed Zuhair Kharboutli and Sattar Mahmoudi, the acting head of Iran's energy ministry, the sources said.

Mahmoudi, in statements published on the ministry's website, said the deals to rebuild Syria's electricity infrastructure damaged during the country's six-year war were worth "several hundred million euros (dollars)".

The agreements involved "equipment, the network and power plants", he said, adding that Iranian firms were ready to carry out the work and that the Iranian government would support them.

Syrian state news agency SANA said one deal involved the construction of a 450-megawatt power plant in the coastal province of Latakia, home to President Bashar al-Assad's clan and regime bastion.

Other deals stipulate the rehabilitation of power stations in Aleppo, Homs and Banias.

In May Kharboutli said the Damascus government had supplied 97 percent of the country's electricity needs before the war erupted in 2011.

That proportion is now down to 27 percent because of the shortage of fuel, he said, adding that before the conflict Syria had generated 49 billion kilowatts per hour compared with just 19 billion now.

Iran is the key political, military and financial backer of the Assad government, and has sent to Syria military advisers and volunteers to help in the fight against rebels and jihadists.

In January Iran signed several deals with Syria to build a mobile phone network, a petrol terminal and have the right to operate phosphate mines in Sharqiya, south of the ancient city of Palmyra.

© 2017 AFP