Beirut- Iran plans to establish an oil refinery in regime-controlled areas near the Syrian city of Homs as General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed on Tuesday concern over the move and pointed out that “Iran is projecting malign influences across the Middle East and supporting terrorist organizations in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.”
Iranian news agency Fars quoted the head of downstream technologies at Iran’s Research Institute of the Petroleum Industry Akbar Zamanian as saying that Iran will build an oil refinery near Homs with a production capacity of 140,000 barrels per day.
“This refinery will be built as a consortium with the participation of Iran, Venezuela and Syria,” Zamanian said, according to Fars.
Damascus and Tehran had earlier signed a memorandum of understanding to build a power plant in the coastal province of Latakia with a capacity of 540 megawatts.
The Revolutionary Guards had also announced it provided Syrian forces with aircraft carrying guided missiles, in addition to sending around 70,000 Iranian, Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghan militias to fight alongside the regime.
Meanwhile, a Syrian Kurdish official described as “positive” the comments delivered by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem who said Damascus was ready to negotiate greater autonomy with the Syrian Kurds.
Saleh Muslim, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party told Asharq Al-Awsat that his party possesses a plan for democratic federalism. “We are ready to discuss it any time,” he said, adding that the federal project is not Kurdish but a plan for the entire Syria.
Muslim also said that Russia might play a role in any future talks conducted with the Syrian regime in this regard and would therefore act as a guarantor.
“In Syria, they [Kurds] want to proclaim autonomy in one form or another within the borders of the Syrian Arab Republic. Negotiations and a dialogue are possible on the matter,” Moallem told Russia Today website on Monday.
Separately, attempts to establish a joint local council in the city of Raqqa through annexing the councils of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the opposition’s temporary government, failed on Tuesday after the opposition rejected to participate in a US-sponsored conference that Italy had called for.
Saad Shuwish, head of a council linked to the temporary government, said the rejection came because the issue was related only to the city of Raqqa and not the entire province.
Layla Mustafa, the co-head of the Raqqa Civilian Council, refused to comment on the issue.