Al-Assad estimates Syrian civil war's damage at 200 billion dollars

Syria's civil war has caused upwards of 200 billion dollars of damage, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published Wednesday.

Syria is counting on Russia, China and Iran to help rebuild the country, al-Assad told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

"The economic issues can be immediately resolved when the situation in Syria stabilizes, but the restoration of the infrastructure will require a long time," al-Assad said.

He praised Russia's military support of his government and said Russian bases are needed in Syria to maintain a regional balance of power.

He also said the format of a new government in Syria should be determined through negotiations in Geneva. A new administration should include forces loyal to the current government as well as members of the opposition and independents.

Syria's civil war, which began with a government crackdown on a protest movement against al-Assad, has lasted more than five years and claimed the lives of at least 250,000 people, according to estimates by the United Nations.

Russia began a bombing campaign against insurgents in Syria last year to support al-Assad, a longtime ally, and restore some stability to the country. With Russia's support, al-Assad's military has regained significant territory.

Some insurgent groups in Syria are supported by Middle Eastern and Western powers, such as the United States, saying that al-Assad's regime has committed crimes against humanity, including mass killings of civilians.

Last month, Russia and the US brokered a ceasefire deal in Syria that appears to be predominantly holding. However, the deal does not include UN-designated terrorist groups, such as Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.

Last update: Wed, 30/03/2016 - 16:58

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