06:15 GMT +322 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The annual Damascus International Fair began on Thursday and will be closed on Saturday. It is the oldest fair in the Middle East which was held for the first time in 1954. The event was canceled following the start of the civil war in Syria but was resumed again in 2017.

    More than 500,000 people visited on Friday the Damascus International Fair, organizers of the event said. “The number of visitors of the fair exceeded 500,000 on Friday. The entrance to the fair was closed as it could not accept so many people,” the organizers said, as quoted by the Ikhbariya broadcaster. The fair also caused serious traffic jams in Damascus.

    ​Last week, Syrian Tourism Minister Besher Riad Yazji praised in an interview with Sputnik the role of Russia in the restoration of the tourism sector in Syria.

    "As to numbers, last year the tourist flow amounted to 1.3 million people. This year, we see a 37-percent increase, compared to the previous year. The victories that the heroes of the Syrian army carried out in cooperation with Russia played a big role in the return of tourism to Syria," he said.

    With further improvements in the security situation, the tourism sector and cooperation with investors in the field of tourism in Syria will grow, the minister stressed.

    Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with the government forces fighting against numerous opposition groups and terrorist organizations. Scores of people have fled the country as a result.

    However, as the government has recently regained control over vast territories of the country that had been seized by terrorists, refugees have begun repatriating. According to the recent estimates of Russian National Defense Control Center, a total of 300,000 Syrian refugees and another 1.2 million internally displaced persons have returned home over the past 2.5 years.

    READ MORE: Terrorist-Held Idlib the Only Excuse for Illegal US Presence in Syria – Observer


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