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Wednesday, 15 June 2011 - Syria’s finances under scrutiny

Syria could by the end of the year be forced to look for outside aid to keep its economy afloat, analysts warn, as the country reels from three months of protests and a huge military crackdown.

As troops advanced on the northern town of Maarat al-Numan on Tuesday, observers increasingly questioned the health of Syrian finances.

With the tourism sector devastated by the unrest, foreign investment on pause and government spending rising to help ease the discontent, analysts say foreign exchange reserves at the central bank are being depleted as the government tries to stem pressure on the local currency. The Syrian pound slipped about 15 per cent against the dollar in April and sells for less than the official rate on the black market.