Syria allows factories to import fuel for three months

Damascus:Syria on Monday allowed factory owners to import fuel for three months, state media said, in a bid to lessen a combustibles crisis gripping the war-torn country.

The government has traditionally been the sole importer of oil and its derivatives, but has been facing a flurry of international sanctions since the conflict started in 2011.

“A decision has been issued to allow industry chambers and industrialists to import fuel and heating oil by land and sea for three months,” state news agency SANA said.

It aimed to “meet industrial needs, support the supply of oil derivatives, secure extra quantities to ensure production continues and to meet citizen needs”, it said.

Syria has in recent months suffered a fuel crisis that has seen a spike in the price of heating oil and long queues for much demanded cooking gas.

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Ghanem has blamed the crisis on “unilateral economic measures” imposed on Syria.

Analyst Shadi Ahmed said the measure announced Monday was positive.

“It establishes a sort of partnership between the public and private sectors to secure basic needs,” he told AFP.

“We are betting in Syria that the way to avoid the economic blockade is to get the clogs of the economy turning,” he said.

The war is estimated to have set Syria’s economy back by three decades, destroying infrastructure and paralysing the production of electricity and oil.

The Damascus authorities estimate losses in the oil sector since the start of the civil war at $74 billion.

After a series of victories against rebels and jihadists since a Russia military intervention in 2015, the regime now controls almost two-thirds of Syria.

But the country’s main oil and gas fields remain out of government control in the northeast of the country.