Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri leaves the plane upon his arrival at Damascus international airport in Damascus, Syria January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Iran struck economic and trade deals with Syria on Monday, as it widens its role there after helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reclaim most of his country.

Tehran has reached “very important agreements on banking cooperation” with Syria, Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said in the Syrian capital Damascus.

Iran will also help repair power stations across Syria and set up a new plant in the coastal province of Latakia, he added.

During Syria’s eight-year conflict, Tehran has dispatched forces and allied Shi’ite militias, including Hezbollah, to provide Damascus with vital military support. Experts say Tehran is now looking to reap a financial dividend.

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.

Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis said Syria and Iran signed a “unique” agreement on Monday for long-term economic cooperation which includes industry, trade, and agriculture.

The two countries signed several memorandums of understanding during Jahangiri’s visit to Damascus which Khamis described as “historic”. Officials said they covered education, housing, public works, railways, investment, and other fields, without providing further details.

Reporting by Kinda Makieh; Writing by Ellen Francis; Editing by Catherine Evans



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