SYRIAN President Bashar Assad visited Moscow on Tuesday to extend thanks to the Russian authorities and people for helping to preserve the unity and independence of Syria.
Assad arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, his first trip abroad since the western backed Islamist offensive hit Syria in 2011. Meanwhile, Iraqi parliamentarians called for Russia to carry out airstrikes against IS in Iraq.
At a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, Assad said: ‘First of all, I would like to express huge gratitude to the whole leadership of the Russian Federation and the Russian people for the assistance they are rendering to Syria. Thanks to them for standing for Syria’s unity and independence.
‘The most important thing is that all this is being done in the framework of international legislation. The political steps taken by Russia since the beginning of the crisis have prevented the situation in Syria from evolving in accordance with a more tragic scenario. But for your actions and your decisions, terrorism that has spread in the region would have taken a larger area and spread to an even larger territory. These steps were confirmed by the fact that you took part in the fighting in a united front to combat terrorism,’ Assad said.
Russia’s warplanes have been pounding Islamic State (IS) terrorist targets in Syria since September 30 at the request of Syria’s President Bashar Assad. The Russian aerospace group in Syria consists of more than 50 planes and helicopters.
President Assad spoke in favour of a political solution, saying: ‘It is necessary to stop any kind of support to terrorist groups and let the Syrian people determine the future of their country. The goal of the combat operations (of the government forces in Syria) is the destruction of terrorism, which hinders the political solution (to the crisis in the country).’
Also speaking on Tuesday, Iraq’s former national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, said in an interview that Baghdad needs to replace the United States with Russia for a joint fight against terrorist groups.
‘The parliament factions are calling on the Iraqi government to request Russian airstrikes and use it to attack the ISIL military bases and oil centres,’ Rubaie, who is now a senior legislator in the Iraqi parliament, said on Tuesday. ‘The US Air Force is not cooperating with Iraq’s federal government, security and armed forces and refuses to provide any intelligence on the Islamic State (IS) concentration and field camps,’ he added.
The politician complained that in every ten flight missions carried out by the US-led coalition aircraft, IS positions are attacked in only two missions, while ‘nothing special happens’ in the other eight missions.