The Iranian regime may have invested up to $30 billion into bolstering Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, a lawmaker revealed in an estimate of the cost of Tehran's involvement in the country's bloody, nearly decade-long civil war.
The estimate comes from Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh - an outgoing member of the Iranian parliament's security and foreign policy panel - who shared the account with Etemad newspaper in an interview published Wednesday.
The $30 billion budget is estimated to be about twice as high as Iran's own defense budged last year, Bloomberg reports.
The International Monetary Fund estimates that it comprises approximately 6.5 percent of Iran's GDP in 2019.
Iran was one of the first foreign players to get involved in the Syrian crisis, sending militias to back the besieged Assad regime as early as in 2011, when anti-government protests turned into a massive rebellion.
Besides support on the ground, Iran also backed Assad with money and oil, and was able to secure a foothold in the Syrian economy in return, getting a major share of the telecom market and receiving a green-light to build a port in the country.
Its encroachment in Syria was part of an effort to build a land bridge to its regional proxies, such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, and was viewed with concern in Israel, who - is believed - initiated an airstrike which killed at least four pro-Iranian militia members and three civilians on the outskirts of Damascus.