Assad 'confident' of Russian support for Syria regime
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on August 26, 2015, shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad answering questions from al-Manar's journalist Amro Nassef (R) during an interview in Damascus. AFP PhotoSyrian President Bashar al-Assad expressed "strong confidence" on Aug. 25 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 powerful 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, abandons its friends."
"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."
"Russia has never said that it supported President Such and Such and then decided to abandon him," he said.
Assad had been asked by Al-Manar's correspondent about US 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."
"We are on the same axis, the axis of resistance," the president added.
Turning to the question of Hezbollah, he said "the difference (between Hezbollah and foreign anti-regime fighters) is legitimacy. Who invited Hezbollah to Syria," Assad asked.
"It came after an agreement with the Syrian state, and the Syrian state is a legitimate state," whereas "the other terrorist forces came to kill the Syrian people."
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.