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Report: Syria signs oil exploration deal with Russian firm Soyuzneftegaz

Syria's state news agency says the oil ministry has signed a deal with Russian oil and gas company Soyuzneftegaz to explore in the Mediterranean Sea.

SANA's report Wednesday did not say where the deal was signed, though it said the exploration will take place off the Syrian coast.

Earlier this year, Syrian Oil Minister Suleiman Abbas discussed with the ambassadors of China and Russia the possibility of exploring for oil and gas off Syria's Mediterranean coast.

Most of Syria's oil and gas fields in the country's east are under opposition control and the country's oil exports almost have stopped.

Israel is already developing recent discoveries of massive offshore deposits and Lebanon has also spoken of trying to develop offshore fields.

Russia is one of President Bashar Assad's strongest international backers.