MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian Defense Ministry says it's coordinating efforts to help Syrian refugees return home.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said in a conference call on Wednesday that included Russian and Syrian officials that work is underway to rebuild dozens of Syria's power stations, schools and other vital infrastructure destroyed by the war.
In Damascus, Syrian Public Administration Minister Hussein Makhlouf pledged the government would protect refugee property rights and grant them a year's deferral from military conscription.
Mizintsev says over 1.2 million of internally displaced Syrians and about 300,000 refugees have returned in the past two and a half years.
He called on Western nations to drop their sanctions against Damascus introduced early in the seven-year conflict, in order to help post-war restoration and encourage the return of the refugees.