Russia Seeking Syria’s Territorial Integrity

Russia Seeking Syria’s Territorial IntegrityRussia Seeking Syria’s Territorial Integrity

Russia is not committed to keeping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, the leader of the main Syrian opposition group said Friday after talks in Moscow.

Speaking a day after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Syrian National Coalition leader Khaled Khoja said “the Russian leadership isn’t clinging to Bashar al-Assad” and is focusing on the need to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity, AP reported.

It was not immediately clear whether Khoja’s statement signaled a shift in Russia’s stance or merely reflected Moscow’s attempt to rally Syrian opposition support for its new push to help mediate the conflict.

Lavrov’s meeting with his Saudi counterpart earlier this week highlighted continuing differences about Syria’s political future. Russia has called for including Syrian government troops in a coalition fighting Islamic State extremists, but Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir rejected any role.

Khoja said Russia’s main focus was the need to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and avoid the collapse of the country’s state structures, adding that he offered assurances that the National Coalition also stands for preserving state institutions.