MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The only way to solve the crisis in Syria is to support the legitimate government headed by President Bashar Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
In an interview with CBS News "60 Minutes," Putin said that it is his "deep belief" that any actions "in order to destroy the legitimate government [in Syria] will create a situation which you can witness now in the other countries of the region or in other regions, for instance in Libya, where all the state institutions are disintegrated."
Putin stressed that only the Syrian people are entitled to decide who should govern their country and how and partners of the US-led coalition that has been targeting Islamic State (ISIL) positions in Syria should take that into account.
"And there is no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism. But at the same time, urging them to engage in positive dialogue with the rational opposition and conduct reform," Putin said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to meet with his US counterpart Barack Obama on Monday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to discuss the Syrian issue.
Syria has been in the state of a civil war since 2011. Government forces have been fighting on multiple fronts, against moderate opposition groups and numerous extremist insurgent groups, including ISIL and the al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra).
Russia has been supporting the Syrian government to find a political solution to the devastating conflict, and to counter terrorism by providing military assistance. The United States has been supporting the country’s moderate opposition and calling for Assad to step down.