Putin says he is concerned if Assad leaves power ‘now’

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that his concerned about the risk of political vacuum if embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad leaves power now.

“We are concerned about the possible appearance of a political vacuum in Syria if some decisions about a change of government in Syria are taken now,” Reuters reported Putting as saying during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,


“Assad goes today, a political vacuum emerges - who will fill it? Maybe ...terrorist organizations,” Putin added.

A spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army told AFP on Friday that his group have recently received new weapons that could “change the course of the battle” against the Syrian regime.

“We've received quantities of new types of weapons, including some that we asked for and that we believe will change the course of the battle on the ground,” FSA political and media coordinator Louay Muqdad said, according to AFP.

“We have begun distributing them on the front lines, they will be in the hands of professional officers and FSA fighters,” he said.

He did not specify what weapons had been received or when they had arrived, but added that a new shipment was expecting in coming days and recalled that the rebels had asked for “deterrent weapons.”

The apparent influx of weapons comes after the United States said it would provide rebel forces with “military support,” although it has declined to outline what that might entail.

“The weapons will be used for one objective, which is to fight the regime of (President) Bashar al-Assad,” Muqdad insisted.

“They will be collected after the fall of the regime, we have made this commitment to the friends and brotherly countries” who supplied the weapons, he said.

On Thursday, Muqdad said rebels needed short-range ground-to-air missiles, surface-to-air missiles known as MANPADS, anti-tank missiles, mortars and ammunition.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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