Al-Assad estimates Syrian civil war's damage at 200 billion dollars

Syria's civil war has caused upwards of 200 billion dollars of damage, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published Wednesday.

Syria is counting on Russia, China and Iran to help rebuild the country, al-Assad told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

"The economic issues can be immediately resolved when the situation in Syria stabilizes, but the restoration of the infrastructure will require a long time," al-Assad said.

He praised Russia's military support of his government and said Russian bases are needed in Syria to maintain a regional balance of power.

He also said the format of a new government in Syria should be determined through negotiations in Geneva. A new administration should include forces loyal to the current government as well as members of the opposition and independents.

Syria's civil war, which began with a government crackdown on a protest movement against al-Assad, has lasted more than five years and claimed the lives of at least 250,000 people, according to estimates by the United Nations.

Russia began a bombing campaign against insurgents in Syria last year to support al-Assad, a longtime ally, and restore some stability to the country. With Russia's support, al-Assad's military has regained significant territory.

Some insurgent groups in Syria are supported by Middle Eastern and Western powers, such as the United States, saying that al-Assad's regime has committed crimes against humanity, including mass killings of civilians.

Last month, Russia and the US brokered a ceasefire deal in Syria that appears to be predominantly holding. However, the deal does not include UN-designated terrorist groups, such as Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.

Last update: Wed, 30/03/2016 - 16:58

More from World

US abstains for first time from UN vote condemning Cuban embargo

The United States abstained for the first time in 24 years from a vote in the UN General Assembly urging an end to...

Venezuelans demand end to "dictatorship" as tensions surge

Venezuela's political crisis escalated Wednesday as the opposition announced a general strike and threatened to...

Monitor: Death toll rises to 35 in bombing of Syrian rebel village

The death toll from Wednesday's airstrikes near a school complex in a rebel-held village in north-western Syria has...

US pushing for TTIP deal ahead of Obama's Germany trip

The United States said Wednesday it is continuing to push forward with a US-European trade agreement with the "...

2016 deadliest year for migrants in Mediterranean, UN agency says

This year has been the deadliest ever for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, with at least 3,800...