Oil field in northeastern Syria

An oil field in northeastern Syria
Russia plans to help Syria rebuild energy facilities that have been devastated by years of war, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak has said.

"We have signed a road map, not only in the field of electricity but also oil and gas, covering the restoration of oil fields and the development of new deposits," Novak was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies on February 13.

As the main international backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia has become deeply involved in helping the war-battered country rebuild as fighting against Syrian Sunni rebels has subsided in recent months.

Last week, an agreement was signed on the "rehabilitation, modernization, and construction of new energy facilities in Syria," Russia's Energy Ministry said on its website.

"We attach great importance to restoring the Syrian economy, especially the oil and gas sectors which will certainly contribute to the normalization of the economic and social situation in the country," Novak said.

In December, a Russian delegation visited Damascus to discuss investment and reconstruction with Assad, including oil and gas projects but also electricity, phosphates, transportation, and trade.

"Syria is a land of unlimited riches," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who led the delegation, said at the time.

"Russian companies have the moral right to develop large-scale economic projects here," Rogozin said.

Russia launched an air campaign to back Assad's ground forces in September 2015. Since last year, Russia and Syria have trumpeted their success in regaining control of about 55 percent of Syrian territory.

The gains led President Vladimir Putin in December to order a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria, but since that time fighting has flared up again among various factions that remain in the deeply divided country.