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Assad: Russian military presence in Syria important to intl. order

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (2nd-L) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (2nd-R) inspect a military parade at the Russian airbase in Hmeimim in the northwestern Syrian province of Latakia on December 11. (Photo from the Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency)

Syria says apart from helping it fight terrorism, Russia’s military presence in the Arab country is important to ensuring international order.

“The Russian military role in Syria – particularly the role of military bases [on the Syrian soil] – can be viewed from two perspectives; the first is fighting terrorism, which we call international terrorism,”  President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with Russia’s Zvezda television channel on Sunday, according to a transcript provided by the official Syrian Arab News Agency. “This will end one day or at least it will be weakened as a result of the continuing battles to eliminate it,” he noted.

“So, what comes after this terrorism? The other perspective is related to the role of Russia in the world. Today, we live in an international jungle; we do not live under international law,” Assad said. The current disorderly global situation, he said, had been caused by a lack of adherence to international law for around a quarter of a century.

“International balance requires a Russian role: politically – in international organizations, and militarily – through military bases,” the Syrian head of state said.

The remarks came on the fifth anniversary of Russia’s military intervention in Syria that began at Damascus’ request as the Arab country was overwhelmed by foreign-backed violence.

Russia runs an airbase, known as Hmeimim, in the northwestern Syrian province of Latakia, and the Tartus naval facility on the country’s Mediterranean coast. Last August, a Russian government document surfaced showing that Damascus had agreed to allow Moscow to expand the Hmeimim airbase.

Since entering Syria, the Russian military has been staging airstrikes from the former outpost that, together with Iranian military advisory support, has enabled the country to reclaim most of the territory that it had lost to violence by foreign-backed militants and Takfiri terrorists.

According to Assad, when Moscow became involved in Syria, the Arab nation was facing multi-pronged advances by terrorists, who were receiving “direct support from the United States, France, the UK, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia; in addition to the indirect support from other Western countries.”

He, meanwhile, noted that Moscow would not need to engage in military activity in overseas bases if the West abandoned the use of military force to create problems around the world.

“But for now, Russia and the world need the balance that I have mentioned,” the Syrian president stated.

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