16:26 GMT17 January 2021
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin said that it is rather premature to speak of granting political asylum to Syrian President Bashar Assad in Russia as only the Syrian people can determine his future.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — It is rather premature to speak of granting political asylum to Syrian President Bashar Assad in Russia as only the Syrian people can determine his future, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper.

    "You know, I think it is premature to discuss this issue. We have granted asylum to Mr Snowden, and it was more difficult than doing the same for Assad will ever be," Putin said in the interview published Tuesday.

    "We should first let the Syrian people speak. And let me assure you that if everything goes the democratic way may be Assad won't have to go anywhere," Putin stressed.

    "I think that Assad made quite a few mistakes while the conflict in Syria had been spreading. But we all know too well that the conflict would not grow to this magnitude if it had not been fuelled from the outside with supplies of money, militants and weaponry," the president added.

    Putin also said that Russia hopes the ongoing civil war in Syria will not mirror conflicts in Iraq and Libya.

    "We do not want the Libyan or Iraqi scenario to be repeated in Syria. In my view, no effort should be spared in strengthening legitimate governments in the region’s countries. That also applies to Syria," Putin said.

    Putin also gave credit to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi for taking on the responsibility and bringing the conflict in Egypt under control.

    Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with opposition factions and Islamist terrorist groups such as Islamic State (ISIL or Daesh, outlawed in Russia) and the Nusra Front fighting the Syrian Army.

    Vladimir Putin has called for the strengthening of legitimate authorities in conflict-hit countries in Central Asia, Middle East and Africa followed by political reforms.

    "It is vital to restore and strengthen power structures in such countries as Iraq and Libya, to achieve stability in Somalia and other countries, to strengthen authorities in Afghanistan. But it's not all. On the basis of this stability, political reforms must be, certainly, carried out," Putin said.


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