Syria rewards Iran with tax exemption on fuel imports
DAMASCUS - Syria's government decided on Tuesday to issue an "exclusive" tax exemption on fuel imports from Iran until the end of June, state news agency SANA said.
The cabinet decided "to issue an exclusive exemption on taxes and customs on oil, fuel and gas imports from Iran until June 30, 2013," SANA reported.
Iran is President Bashar al-Assad's key backer.
More than two years on from the outbreak of a spiralling conflict that the UN says has claimed more than 70,000 lives, Syria is suffering from a severe fuel shortage.
With large swathes of the oil-rich east now under rebel control, Syria has seen a sharp decrease in oil production.
Several explosions blamed on insurgents have targeted pipelines in Deir Ezzor in the east, Homs in central Syria and Banias on the Mediterranean coast.
The authorities have also blamed soaring fuel prices on difficulties securing inter-city transport. Tankers have frequently been targeted while on the roads, and some of them have been looted.
The European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions Syrian oil and oil derivatives, prohibiting their import and export.
Prior to the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011, Syria produced some 400,000 barrels of oil a day. Production has since dropped by half. Most of Syria's oil is used for domestic consumption.