17:27 GMT29 July 2021
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    Syria is struggling to cope with thousands of foreign mercenaries who are entering the country through its border with Turkey, Syrian Ambassador to India Riad Abbas told Sputnik.

    NEW DELHI (Sputnik) – According to the ambassador, foreign insurgents are funded mainly by Riyadh and Doha, while Ankara also supports them.

    "The problem we are facing is cross-border terrorism. More than 100,000 mercenaries have been smuggled into Syria through Turkey, and they get support from Turkey and some Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, [and] Qatar."

    Abbas called on the countries that he claims support terrorism to close their shared borders with Syria and prevent militants from being smuggled, as well as urging them to cease their funding and arming of the insurgents.

    Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011. More than 200,000 people have died as a result of clashes between pro-Assad and opposition forces as well as insurgent groups, while millions have been displaced.

    The United States has long accused Assad's government of using violence against its own people, imposing sanctions against the president in 2011 in the hope that he would step down. Despite the sanctions, Assad won a landslide victory in the 2014 presidential election.

    Syria will not accept any orders imposed by foreign powers, Riad Abbas said.

    According to the ambassador, several world leaders, including US and Qatar authorities, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, all called for Syrian President Bashar Assad's resignation.

    However, despite external pressure, Assad still "gets support from our people," Abbas said.

    "The solution has to be under the control of Syrian people, not imposed from outside," Abbas said, alluding to the prospects of finding an answer to the crisis in the country at multilateral Geneva talks.

    "America has no right to decide who rules Syria. The will of the Syrian people will decide who rules Syria, and we have seen what happened in the last election," Abbas said, adding that it was the people's choice to elect Assad.

    According to Abbas, Syria is not like other countries, where leaders are put into power by the US government.

    "We are not a follower for American policy, we are independent country," Abbas said.

    He stressed that Syria is not ready to give up its sovereignty, adding that "we are ready to fight for our people and for our safety and for our country till the end."

    Russia and Syria have cordial relations, with Moscow supporting Damascus' fight against terrorism and wish for peace, Abbas noted.

    The diplomat added that Russia supports "the rights of our [Syrian] people, they support the principles by which our government asks for peace. They support Syria in its search for a political solution."


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    extremism, Bashar al-Assad, Turkey, Syria, US
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