Iran MP: We have spent $30bn defending Assad, Syria must pay us back

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad (L) and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran on 25 February 2019 [Yousef Alhelou/Twitter]

Iran has spent between $20-$30 billion in its Syria campaign in order to keep President Bashar Al-Assad in power, an Iranian lawmaker has revealed, insisting that Syria will one day have to repay its debts to Tehran.

Iranian Member of Parliament, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, who has been an integral part of its national security and foreign policy commission, made the revelation yesterday in an interview with the Iranian state-affiliated Etemad newspaper. “I repeat, we may have given Syria $20 billion to $30 billion, and we have to take it back from Syria. The money of this nation has been spent there,” he stated, repeating that his country “must get this money back from Syria.”

Throughout the nine years of Syria’s ongoing civil war, Iran has been a crucial ally to the Assad regime and has provided military support through the deployment of Shia militia fighters, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) commanders, arms and equipment, as well as the funding of proxy groups such as Hezbollah.

In comparison to the $30 billion spent on propping up the Syrian regime, Iran’s defence budget last year amounted to around 700 trillion rials ($16.6 billion).

Falahatpisheh’s comments come a week after it was reported that Iran was withdrawing some of its military forces and elements from Syria due to the economic hardships caused by sanctions imposed by the United States on Tehran and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the country, as well as the sustained Israeli air strikes which have been targeting Iranian military positions and sites within Syria over the past few years.

The reports of the withdrawal were denied, however, by Iran, Hezbollah and Syria itself. If Iran does demand the full repayment of the $30 billion from Syria in the near future, it would put significant strain on the Syrian regime due to the economic instability that it is facing itself, along with the nationwide rebuilding of Syria and its civilian infrastructure destroyed after years of war.

Source: Middle East Monitor