Assad ‘confident’ of Russian support for Syria regime

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad expressed “strong confidence” on Tuesday that Russia will continue supporting his embattled regime, speaking in an interview with Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television network.

Assad also described as “legitimate” the presence in Syria of fighters from Hezbollah backing his forces.

The Lebanese Shiite movement, along with Russia and Iran, have been Assad’s major allies since Syria’s revolt broke out in 2011.

“We have strong confidence in the Russians, as they have proven throughout this crisis, for four years, that they are sincere and transparent in their relationship with us,” Assad said in what was rare television interview.

“They are principled,” he said, while “the United States abandons its allies, abandon its friends.” In compariso, Assad said of Russia that “this was never the case with Russia’s policy, neither during the Soviet Union, neither during the time of Russia.”

Assad described Russia’s policy as “constant,” saying the Kremlin “does not support one person or one president.”

Assad had been asked by Al-Manar’s correspondent about U.S. President Barack Obama’s comments earlier this month that Russia and Iran “recognise that the trend lines are not good for Assad.”

He rebuffed the statement, saying Iran, too, remained a steadfast ally.

“The power of Iran is the power of Syria, and a victory for Syria is a victory for Iran.” He also added: “We are on the same axis, the axis of resistance.”

Syria’s conflict began with anti-government demonstrations. But after a bloody crackdown by the ruling regime, it spiralled into a multi-front civil war that has killed more than 240,000 people.