18:04 GMT +316 December 2017
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    Syrians walk past a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad in the capital Damascus.

    Russia Prevents Syrian, Iraqi Gov't From Collapsing - Iraq Vice President

    © AFP 2017/ LOUAI BESHARA
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    The Iraqi vice president said that Russia preserved the entire Middle Eastern region from being destroyed by keeping its stance toward the Syrian and the Iraqi governments.

    BAGHDAD (Sputnik) — If it were not for Russia, the Syrian government would have fallen, followed by Baghdad, the map of the entire Middle Eastern region would have changed, Iraqi Vice President Nouri Maliki told Sputnik.

    "I have said this before and I will repeat it again – if it were not for the Russian stance, the region would be fully destroyed, its map would be new and unusual … Without Russia’s approach to the Syrian issue which differs from the one of the United States, the Syrian regime would have fallen, terrorists would have intensified their actions thanks to this, the regional map would change and in the end it would lead to the fall of Baghdad," Maliki said.

    According to the official, he expected to meet during his visit to Russia with senior officials, including President Vladimir Putin, and to discuss supplies of Russian arms to the country.

    "My visit to Russia is coming up … During the visit I shall meet with senior officials including Putin, the foreign minister [Sergei Lavrov], the head of the Federation Council [Valentina Matvienko]," Maliki said.

    The Iraqi official added he would discuss the need for Russia’s role to increase in the country and the region.

    "I shall also discuss supplies of Russian arms to the Iraqi armed forces, we would like the Iraqi army to have Russian weapons as it uses it during training and is familiar with it," Maliki said.

    The vice president will pay a working visit to Moscow beginning from Sunday until Wednesday.

    The turmoil in Syria, which is ongoing since 2011, has provided various terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS, terrorist group banned in many countries including Russia) with a suitable environment fostering their development. As a result, the IS managed to seize vast territories of Syria and Iraq in 2014 and declared establishment of a caliphate in the areas under its control.

    During the civil war in Syria, the West repeatedly insisted that Syrian President Bashar Assad had to step down along with the government in Damascus, however, Moscow opposed such approach stressing that it would only lead to further deterioration of the situation in the region.

    Since September 2015, Russian Aerospace Forces had been carrying out airstrikes in Syria targeted at terrorist positions at Assad's request. In May 2016, the biggest part of Russian forces left Syria after its task was successful fulfilled.

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    government, Nouri Maliki, Syria, Russia
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