Putin Reiterates Support for Syrian President

Putin Reiterates Support  for Syrian PresidentPutin Reiterates Support  for Syrian President

Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and said he opposed any use of external force to try to end the Syrian civil war.

“Our fear is that Syria could plunge into the same situation as Libya and Iraq,” Putin said on Friday in response to questions at Russia’s annual economic forum in St Petersburg. “We don’t want that in Syria.”

Putin said the US policy to counter the Islamic State militant group, which controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, had so far had “lamentable” and “tragic” consequences, Al Jazeera reported.

“The US supports Iraq, supports ... the army. With two or three strikes, IS has captured so many arms. IS is now armed better than the Iraqi Army. And all this is happening with the support of the US,” he said.

Putin stressed that Russia would not call on Assad to step down. But he said Russia would urge Assad to work with a “healthy” opposition on political reforms.

“We are ready to work with the president to ensure a path towards political transition so as to ... move away from an armed confrontation. But that should not be done with the use of force from the outside.”