Iran moves in on Syria with gas, phone, phosphate deals

by WorldTribune Staff, January 18, 2017

A month after helping Bashar Assad’s forces recapture Aleppo, Iran continues to raise its profile in Syria with the announcement on Jan. 17 of deals to build a mobile phone network and gasoline terminal in Syria.

The five deals, signed during a visit to Teheran by Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis, include a “license for a mobile phone operator, the transfer of 5,000 hectares for the creation of a gasoline terminal and 5,000 hectares for farmland” in Syria, according to the IRNA news agency.

Iran’s first vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, right, welcomes Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis in Teheran. / AFP

Iran will also have the right to operate phosphate mines in Sharqiya, approximately 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the ISIL-held ancient city of Palmyra, and to invest in an unnamed Syrian port.

Iran, with thousands of its fighters on the ground in Syria, including scores from terror proxy Hizbullah, was considered vital to the recapture last month of the rebel stronghold in Aleppo.

Eshaq Jahangiri, Iran’s first vice-president, said Khamis’s visit marked “a new page for economic activities between the two countries.”

“Iran supports the Syrian people and government,” he said at a press conference with Khamis. “The recent victories in Syria are due to the resistance of the people, the Syrian army… and the cooperation on the ground and politically between Iran and Syria.”

Khamis, who arrived on Jan. 17 with a large business delegation, said the two countries were in “the same trench.”