A conservative lawmaker and former chairman of the Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission has said that Iran spent 20-30 billion dollars in Syria that must be reimbursed.
In a video interview with Etemad Online, the website of the reformist Etemad newspaper, published on May 19, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said the money paid to Syria came from the national coffers and has to be paid back.
Falahatpisheh visited Syria in March 2018 and following his visit said Iran should help Syria as long as Syria asks for it and claimed that Iran had played a major role in all the successful operations in the country "against terrorists". He also pointed out that Syria had a "major debt" to Iran which it had to pay back but did not mention the extent of the debt.
The issue of who will economically benefit in Syria after peace returns has been discussed in media as recently as this month when controversy erupted over a close relative of Bashar al-Assad and his billion-dollar empire. Some have said that Iran and Russia are competitors when it comes to reaping the benefits of their "investment" in Syria
"Following my visit to Syria [and calling for the monies paid to Syria or spent there to be paid back] some people said [my statement] had been costly [for Iran]," he said in the interview but added: "I repeat, we have probably given 20 to 30 billion dollars to Syria and must recover it. The money belonging to this nation has been spent there".
Falahatpisheh did not elaborate on whether he meant monies loaned to Syria or spent there for Iran and Hezbollah military operations. He also did not mention when and in what manner he expects the money to be paid back.
The interview was quickly picked up by many news websites in Iran.
Falahatpisheh whose term will end on May 27 is a conservative but was elected as the Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Parliament with the support of reformists in the third year of the current parliament.
In February 2019 Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s top military adviser, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, also said that Iran will recoup what it had spent in Syria by exploiting the war-torn country’s oil, gas and phosphate resources but had not mentioned a figure.