A handout picture on April 15, 2018 shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (center-right) receiving a delegation from the Russia's ruling United Russia political party in Damascus. Photo: SANA via AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — After more than seven years of civil war, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a delegation of Russian lawmakers in Damascus on Sunday that the country needs $400 billion to rebuild.
Dimitry Sabljin, a member of the Duma, told Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency that Assad estimates Syria will need about $400 billion for "infrastructure recovery" that would take 10-15 years to complete.
Sabljin headed a Russian delegation who met with Assad in Damascus. The Russian lawmaker said Assad expressed that Western oil and gas companies are not welcome, but Russian companies are.
The Syrian government's budget for fiscal year 2018 is 3.187 trillion Syrian pounds (about $6.19 billion).
"Syria's economy has deeply deteriorated amid the ongoing conflict that began in 2011, declining by more than 70 percent from 2010 to 2017,” the CIA Factbook summarizes.
Syria's state-run SANA news agency confirmed the meeting. They discussed the recent tripartite missile attack, a campaign of disinformation, and lies in the UN Security Council.
The agency reported that not only are Russia and Syria fighting "terrorism" but also to "protect international law based on respect for sovereign states and the will of their people."
Assad also pointed to the need for the two countries to establish mechanism for economic and parliamentary-level cooperation because there is a "redrawing of the global political map."
With ISIS militants losing control of their so-called caliphate, in addition to the government in Damascus, some Kurds have founded the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, while two Syrian-regime opposition groups have founded a Syrian Interim Government.
The allied militaries of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States unilaterally struck three facilities in Syria. They claim the facilities were used to produce chemical weapons like those in an alleged attack on April 7 that killed more than 40 people.
The Assad regime denies it was responsible and blames Syrian opposition activists and first responders for fabricating the news.
The Syrian civil war began in 2011 and was further destabilized by the rise of ISIS in 2014. The UN estimates that more than 400,000 Syrians have died and more than half of the 22 million Syrians in the country in 2011 have been internally or externally displaced at one time or another.