Cars are seen inside the Saipa Syria Factory in the industrial city of Hassia in Homs, Syria September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
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At an Iranian government-owned car plant near Homs, the small number of vehicles on the assembly line underscores the obstacles hobbling Tehran's economic ambitions in Syria. The plant was set up before Syria's war began as the two allies tried to bring their economies closer together and was restarted in 2016 on Tehran's orders after having closed early in the conflict.It has given Damascus direct financial aid and help restoring its infrastructure, but has also angled for economic concessions and market access that might eventually provide some compensation for its investment in the war.Iranian businesses say they want to export to Syria or do business there, and are optimistic that the market will improve as Damascus pushes toward reconstruction.CLOSE RELATIONSHIPIn the Saipa Syria car factory, a large poster celebrating the alliance shows Assad during a visit to Iran alongside its then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.While front lines seem to have stabilized for now, the war is not over, big parts of Syria remain outside Assad's grip and the economy is a fraction of its prewar size.For Saipa Syria, the most pressing difficulty is limited demand, General Manager Emad Alavian said.
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