Rus­sia speaks on Syria

Lesotho Times - - International -

MOSCOW — The aim of Rus­sia’s mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion in Syria is not to keep Pres­i­dent Bashar al-as­sad in power but to de­feat Is­lamic State mil­i­tants, Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev has said.

Rus­sia be­gan air strikes in Syria in late Septem­ber, in a move which Moscow says is weak­en­ing Is­lamic State mil­i­tants but which Western pow­ers say aims to sup­port As­sad.

Some of Rus­sia’s air strikes have hit groups which are not af­fil­i­ated to Is­lamic State but are try­ing to un­seat As­sad, and are backed by the United States and its al­lies.

“Rus­sia, the United States, and all other states that have a stake in see­ing peace in this re­gion and in Syria, and a strong gov­ern­ment, too, should be dis­cussing pre­cisely po­lit­i­cal is­sues,” Medvedev said in an in­ter­view with Ros­siya TV chan­nel.

“It does not re­ally mat­ter who will be at the helm. We don’t want IS to run Syria, do we? It should be a civilised and le­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment. This is what we need to dis­cuss,” Medvedev said, us­ing an­other name for the Is­lamic State.

Asked whether Syria had to be ruled by As­sad, Medvedev said: “No, ab­so­lutely not. It is up to the Syr­ian peo­ple to de­cide who will be the head of Syria.... At the mo­ment, we op­er­ate on the premise that al-As­sad is the le­git­i­mate pres­i­dent.”

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said on Fri­day there was no meet­ing of the minds with Rus­sia’s Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin over the con­tin­u­ing rule of As­sad, and that the Syr­ian civil war could only end with a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion lead­ing to a new in­clu­sive gov­ern­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Rus­sia, its air force has made 669 sor­ties, hit­ting 456 tar­gets in Syria, since the start of the op­er­a­tion on Septem­ber 30. — Reuters

Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev.

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