The Kremlin informed on Tuesday about Monday’s visit by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The visit of the Syrian leader has not been announced in advance.
Vladimir Putin congratulated Assad on “a very good result in the presidential elections held at the end of May,” the Russian agencies quoted in a statement from the Kremlin’s press services. Putin also drew attention to “Assad’s efforts to rebuild his country and establish dialogue with political opponents.”
The Russian president also said that “the presence of foreign troops in some territories of Syria without a UN mandate is an important problem.” According to the Associated Press, Putin was probably referring to several hundred US soldiers who are fighting in eastern Syria with local forces led by Kurdish militias against the so-called Islamic State.
“This is clearly against international law and does not offer the possibility of making maximum efforts to consolidate the country,” added Putin.
According to a Kremlin communiqué, Assad said that the political processes taking place in Syria “stopped about three years ago”. “There are certain countries that have a destructive influence on the possibility of conducting political trials. Some states have imposed sanctions on Syrians that can be classified as inhuman and illegal,” the Syrian leader of the Kremlin press service is quoted.
Spanish EFE agency stressed that Assad accused “certain states” of blocking negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition that sparked an uprising against him.
The Syrian leader thanked Moscow, which supports his regime, for its humanitarian aid and position on the issue of Syria in the international arena. For his part, Putin said that “the terrorists have suffered very heavy losses, the government of Syria, which you lead, controls 90 percent of the country’s territory.”
Assad’s regime calls the fighters terrorists who raised an uprising against him ten years ago. Russia helped government forces regain most of the territories conquered by the insurgents, reminded the Reuters agency.
The portal gazeta.ru emphasized that, according to official data, Putin and Assad meet in person for the first time in over a year and a half – their last face-to-face talks took place during the Russian president’s visit to Damascus in January 2020. Later, the leaders spoke on the phone and video link several times.
Elections overshadowed by the Civil War
The presidential elections in Syria were held on May 26. According official results Assad won an undisputed victory, receiving over 95 percent of the vote. The US and a number of Western nations concluded that the Syrian elections were “neither free nor fair.” The vote was also criticized by the United Nations, stressing that it was in line with the peace plan planned in the Security Council resolution.
Assad has been the president of Syria since 2000, when he took power from his father, who ruled Hafez al-Assad for the previous 30 years.
In 2011, a war broke out in Syria, which has so far claimed nearly 400,000 lives, and in which other countries have also become militarily involved. The fate of the civil war, in which the insurgents initially succeeded, was outweighed by the military and financial aid provided to Assad by Russia and Iran.
TASS, kremlin.ru, gazeta.ru, PAP
Main photo source: kremlin.ru