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Assad: Cost of Syrian war is $200 billion

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DAMASCUS, Syria, March 30 (UPI) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said his country has lost $200 billion because of the civil war, and he will award the contracts to rebuild the country to Russia, China and Iran.

Assad recently told state-run Russian news agency RIA Novosti the economy would return when the civil war ends but rebuilding the country “requires a lot of time.” He also slammed Western countries when it came to who would profit in the rebuilding.

“There is absolutely no doubt that we will ask friendly states first,” Assad said. “We welcome, first of all, the companies from the three countries, primarily from Russia.”

He said hundreds of infrastructure projects in different areas would be made available for Russian businesses.

As Assad praised his army’s recent regaining control over the historic city of Palmyra from the Islamic State, he accused U.S.-led forces of not being “serious” about defeating the terror group and blamed last year’s loss of Palmyra on the West.

“Two days have passed since the liberation of Palmyra and the countries, supposedly involved in the fight with terrorism as part of America’s coalition, are still to give their reaction,” Assad said. “Let me specify: The regimes in France and Great Britain — we’ve heard no comment from them.”

The Syrian war began in March 2011 and has taken 220,000 lives, leaving millions displaced, U.N. data noted.

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