Syria to restore bridges across Euphrates

Syria, with the assistance of Russia and China, will soon begin to restore bridges across the country’s longest river, the Euphrates, Syrian Minister of Economy and Trade Mohammad Samer al-Khalil informed Izvestia on the sidelines of the Yalta International Economic Forum

According to the minister, this is a top-priority issue for the Syrian government, as this will make it possible to integrate the northeastern regions separated from the country’s mainland by the Euphrates.

"We plan to ask for friendly countries’ assistance in restoring the crossings. These are Russia, Iran and China," he said. "We will be sure to start restoring the bridges, but now we are working on the issue from an engineering viewpoint."

The minister added that Beijing had agreed to earmark over $120 mln for Syria’s reconstruction. Plans are also in store for Syria to join the One Belt One Road project.

The decision on restoring bridges is not fully up to Damascus, orientalist Vladimir Fitin, an expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), explained to the newspaper. According to Fitin, the issue has stalled because of the presence of the US troops and Turkey’s stance.

"Everything depends on whether US troops will stay there and the behavior of the Turkish government and the Kurdish groups," he said. "The construction of bridges will facilitate the passage of Syrian military equipment, including tanks. However, the Syrian government will not agree to a direct standoff with the Americans."

Meanwhile, Alexei Chepa, Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, told Izvestia that Moscow was interested in the early reconstruction of Syria, so Russian companies could take part in restoring bridges across the Euphrates.

"It is essential to restore the country’s infrastructure to preserve its unity and return to peaceful life. Unfortunately, many facilities were destroyed by the coalition forces," the politician said. "Russia has a wealth of experience in building bridges, and so could provide assistance in restoring bridges across the Euphrates."

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