Syria's Assad in first official visit to Aleppo since war

08 Jul 2022 11:04pm
A handout picture released by the Syrian Presidency Facebook page on July 8, 2022, shows Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (C) touring a thermal power station in the eastern countryside of Aleppo province. (Photo by Syrian Presidency Facebook page / AFP)
A handout picture released by the Syrian Presidency Facebook page on July 8, 2022, shows Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (C) touring a thermal power station in the eastern countryside of Aleppo province. (Photo by Syrian Presidency Facebook page / AFP)
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DAMASCUS, Syria - Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on Friday visited the heavily damaged northern province of Aleppo - his first in 11 years of war.

He visited a major power plant in the countryside of the province's east to supervise its partial relaunch after war damage.

Assad was also present for the relaunching of a water pumping station, statements from the Syrian presidency said on the Telegram messaging app.

"Aleppo governorate has suffered from terrorism and sabotage more than any other governorate. The people of Aleppo have a right to benefit from these repairs the most," Assad said, according to one of the statements.

Aleppo province was the scene of fierce battles between government forces, rebels and Islamic State group jihadists from 2012 until government forces gradually ousted them.

Assad's 2016 victory - backed by Russian military force - in Aleppo city, the country's economic heart, was a turning point in the war.

Electricity networks and other infrastructure across the country were ravaged by the war which is estimated to have killed nearly half a million people and displaced millions.

The Syrian government does not have authority over all of Aleppo province, with areas on the Turkish border still controlled by Ankara-backed groups and the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces.

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The recently rehabilitated part of the power station, one of the country's largest, will generate 200 Megawatts of electricity for the province, the presidency said.

In 2021, Aleppo's state-run electricity company announced the power station will be rehabilitated with support from Iran, another Assad ally.

Tehran signed several agreements with Damascus in 2017 to improve the production and distribution of electricity in war-ravaged Syria.

The deals included the rehabilitation of the Aleppo power plant, building a power station in Latakia, as well as repair and maintenance work in other regions. - AFP