Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to Parliament members in Damascus, Syria in this handout picture provided by SANA on June 7, 2016. (SANA/Handout via REUTERS/File)
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A Russian firm is to take over Syria's largest port for 49 years and invest $500 million in expanding it, the transport minister in Damascus said Thursday.Russia has been a key ally of President Bashar Assad's regime in Syria's eight-year civil war, providing it with crucial military backing.The expansion works are expected to increase the eastern Mediterranean port's capacity from 4 million to 38 million tonnes a year, Hammoud said.On Saturday, Russian media quoted the country's Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov as saying a deal for the port was in the works.
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