Iran has spent about $30 billion in Syria since the start of the civil war in the country in 2011, said a prominent Iranian lawmaker in rare remarks about Tehran’s spending in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“We have probably paid $20-30 billion to Syria, and we have to take that money back,” Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of the Iranian parliament’s national security committee, said in an interview with the state-run news website Etemad Online.
Falahatpisheh did not elaborate on how Tehran plans to get its money back from Syria.
“This nation’s money has been spent [in Syria],” he said.
Although the interview was conducted in March, Etemad Online only published it on Wednesday for unknown reasons.
In 2018, General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in similar remarks that Iran must recoup what it has spent in Syria, without saying how much the Islamic Republic had spent in the war-torn country.
Over the past few years, Iranian demonstrators have criticized Tehran’s foreign policies and outside funding, accusing the regime of wasting the country’s financial resources on its network of proxies.
Iran provides significant financial support to its proxies in the region. Lebanese Hezbollah receives some $700 million a year from Iran, according to a US estimate cited by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The US State Department’s Iran Action Group said in a report in 2018 that “Iran has spent over $16 billion since 2012 propping up President Assad and supporting its other partners and proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.”
In response to criticism of its foreign policies, the Islamic Republic argues that it would be fighting extremist groups on Iranian soil had it not intervened in Syria and other parts of the region.