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Russia wants to help Syria relaunch oil production

© AFP/File | Russian energy minister Alexander Novak, pictured in 2017, is looking to help Syria restore oil fields

MOSCOW (AFP) - 

Russia, the Syrian regime's main backer, plans to help Damascus relaunch its energy industry which has been devastated by years of conflict, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Tuesday.

"We have signed a roadmap, not only in the field of electricity, but also oil and gas, covering the restoration of oil fields and the development of new deposits," Kovak was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

He did not name any Russian companies that may be involved.

As the main international backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Russia has committed itself to aiding in the country's reconstruction.

Last week an agreement was signed on the "rehabilitation, modernisation and construction of new energy facilities in Syria" Russia's energy ministry said on its website.

"We attach great importance to restoring the Syrian economy, especially the oil and gas sectors which will certainly contribute to the normalisation of the economic and social situation in the country," said Novak.

In December a Russian business and political delegation visited Damascus to discuss investment and reconstruction with Assad, including oil and gas projects but also electricity, phosphates, transport and trade.

"Syria is a land of unlimited riches," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who led the delegation, said at the time.

"Russian companies have the moral right to develop large-scale economic projects here," Rogozin said then.

Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict in September 2015 in support of Assad.

In December last year, President Vladimir Putin ordered the partial retreat of Russian troops from Syria.

© 2018 AFP