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Syria says road to Jordan crossing is ready, studies opening

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Syria says road to Jordan crossing is ready, studies opening

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DAMASCUS (Reuters) - The road to Syria's border crossing with Jordan, closed by conflict in 2011, is ready for use and Damascus is looking at prospects of reopening it after recovering the border from rebels, the Syrian transport minister said.

Billions of dollars in annual trade moved through the Nassib crossing before fighting erupted in 2011, and its closure has weighed on the economy of Syria and neighbouring states.

Ali Hammoud, in an interview with Reuters on Monday, said the Syrian government had yet to receive any request from Jordan to reopen the crossing. "The road is ready to function, and accordingly we are studying the reopening of the crossing," he said.

"We have eliminated all the obstacles that prevented reaching this crossing."

The Syrian government has recovered control of most of the country with help from its allies Russia and Iran. This year, government forces have defeated insurgents in the last remaining enclaves near the cities of Homs and Damascus, and swept through the rebel-held southwest with Russian help.

Hammoud said foreign airlines were expressing interest in flying to Syria again and the government had received requests from more than 12 airlines to fly to Syria.

But he said foreign states, which he did not identify, were trying to prevent them from launching services to Syria, which is under Western sanctions.

"The requests are from European and Arab companies," he said. "Syrian air space is entirely safe."

(Reporting by Kinda Makieh; Writing Dahlia Nehme; Editing by Tom Perry, Richard Balmforth)

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