Syria president announces $9bn budget for 2019

Syria’s president on Thursday announced a budget for 2019 of almost $9 billion. (SANA/Reuters)
Updated 06 December 2018

Syria president announces $9bn budget for 2019

  • President Bashar Assad issued the budget after parliament passed the bill on Monday
  • The 2018 budget was of 3,187 billion pounds ($7.3 billion)

DAMASCUS: Syria’s president on Thursday announced a budget for 2019 of almost $9 billion, of which around a third has been allocated to investment projects including in areas ravaged by the war.
Seven years into Syria’s grinding civil war, the Damascus government has expelled rebels and extremists from large parts of the country with Russian military backing.
President Bashar Assad issued the budget after parliament passed the bill on Monday.
Next year’s budget would amount to 3,882 billion Syrian pounds ($8.9 billion, according to the official exchange rate), state news agency SANA said.
From that, 1,100 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) would be allocated to “investment,” SANA said.
Finance Minister Mamun Hamdan said 443 billion pounds ($1 billion) would go to “investment projects in liberated areas or to which the Syrian army brings back stability,” SANA quoted him as saying.
The minister also said that 700 billion Syrian pounds ($1.6 billion) would be spent on electricity projects, without mentioning in which areas, according to state television.
Hamdan told newspaper Al-Watan that the projected deficit for next year was 946 billion pounds (almost $2.2 billion).
The regime this year expelled rebels and extremists from the capital’s surroundings and the south of the country, bringing these areas back under its control.
It has also threatened to retake the northwestern region of Idlib on the Turkish border, but the area is for now protected by a shaky buffer zone deal struck in September between Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
The 2018 budget was of 3,187 billion pounds ($7.3 billion).
Syria’s war has killed 360,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.


Air strikes kill five pro-Iran fighters in Syria: monitor

Updated 08 December 2019

Air strikes kill five pro-Iran fighters in Syria: monitor

  • The strikes targeted ‘positions of Iranian forces and allied militias’

BEIRUT: Air strikes by unidentified warplanes have killed five pro-Iran fighters in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor near the Iraqi border, a Britain-based war monitor said on Sunday.
The strikes late Saturday targeted “positions of Iranian forces and allied militias” on the edge of the town of Albukamal, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Five non-Syrian fighters were killed,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, without being able to provide their nationalities.
Regime troops, Iranian forces and allied Iran-backed fighters, including from Iraq, are present in the area on the western banks of the Euphrates River, he said.
According to the Observatory, 10 Iraqi fighters were killed in September in air strikes of unknown origin in the same area.
At the start of that month, air raids killed 18 pro-Iran fighters, the monitor reported.
In June 2018, strikes near the Iraqi border killed 55 pro-regime forces, mostly Syrians and Iraqis, the Observatory said.
An American official said at the time that Israel was responsible, but the Jewish state declined to comment.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria on what it says are positions of Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and Iranian forces, which it has vowed to prevent gaining a foothold in Syrian territory.
But the US-led coalition that has been fighting Daesh has in the past also admitted to carrying out air strikes against pro-regime fighters.
The coalition is backing Kurdish-led fighters on the eastern shores of the Euphrates.