Al-Assad considers Russian intervention in Syria a protection for Moscow

Bashar al-Assad during his meeting with scouts of the Syrian-Russian Youth Camp - February 28, 2024 (Syrian Presidency)

Bashar al-Assad during his meeting with scouts of the Syrian-Russian Youth Camp - February 28, 2024 (Syrian Presidency)

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Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad has considered Russia’s intervention alongside him in military operations in Syria as protection for Moscow.

State-run media quoted al-Assad saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin dispatched his military aircrafts to Syria “to protect Russia and its people”.

Al-Assad’s remarks came during a meeting with participants in the Syrian-Russian Youth Camp on Wednesday, February 28.

He believed that had Putin not engaged in military operations, his country would have suffered from “terrorism”.

The regime president, whose forces are accused of carrying out massacres and violations against Syrian civilians, evoked the Russian narrative towards the invasion of Ukraine, using the same terminology.

He said, “The new Nazis in Ukraine are attacking civilians, and Russia is accused”, likening the situation to what happened in Syria. These are the terms Moscow uses to justify its invasion of Ukraine since February 2022.

Russian violations

During a televised meeting for Putin, on December 14, 2023, he stated that Russian military forces are present to ensure Russia’s interests in this vital region of the world, very close to us, in reference to Syria.

He noted that his country does not plan yet to withdraw these military units from Syria, according to what was conveyed by the Russian news agency “TASS“.

The Russian intervention in Syria represented a radical turning point in the course of field events, where the Syrian regime managed to regain wide geographical areas on the map since the first air raid carried out by the Russian Air Force in Syria on September 30, 2015, some by Russian-Turkish agreements, and others where Russia played a central role with Jordan, Israel, and even the United States.

Russia supervised direct negotiations between the opposition fighters and regime forces in northern, central, and southern Syria, which ended with some opposition factions joining the Fifth Corps supported by Russia, others surrendered their weapons, and those who refused were displaced towards opposition-controlled areas in northwest Syria.

During the military intervention, Russian air forces carried out more than 100,000 combat sorties in the skies of Syria, according to statements by the commander of the Russian air forces deployed to Syria, Yevgeny Nikiforov, on the sidelines of a celebration for the Russian forces at the Hmeimim airbase in the countryside of Latakia, on August 12, 2021, on the occasion of the 109th anniversary of Russian Combat Aviation Day.

According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), Russian forces have killed 6,963 civilians since their intervention in Syria, while 201,234 civilians were killed by regime forces.

In 2019, the American newspaper The New York Times published audio recordings it claimed belonged to the Russian Air Force while conducting bombing operations in Syria.

The newspaper mentioned that it obtained communications conducted by the Russian Air Force during its bombing of medical facilities, through decoding thousands of radio broadcast waves belonging to the Russian forces, documenting months of pilot activity.

The investigation showed Russian aircraft bombing four hospitals in areas outside regime control, including the bombing of the Pulse of Life Hospital in the town of Haas in the southern countryside of Idlib, on May 5, 2023.

The Syrian regime and Ukraine

On June 30, 2022, Ukraine severed its relationship with the Syrian regime after the latter recognized the independence of the separatist regions Donetsk and Luhansk and imposed a commercial embargo and sanctions on entities and individuals from the Syrian regime.

The regime has stood by Moscow in its invasion of Ukraine since it began on February 24, 2022.

Later on, Ukraine canceled joint cooperation agreements with the regime’s government in economic, commercial, and technical fields, aimed at “protecting its national interests”, and imposed sanctions on the president of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, the prime minister, Hussein Arnous, and the minister of foreign affairs, Faisal Mekdad. Ukraine also sent humanitarian aid to the areas affected by the earthquake in northwest Syria, outside the regime’s control.

Kyiv also accuses the Syrian regime of stealing Ukrainian grain, with the most recent issue in this respect being the request submitted by Ukrainian officials, on August 24, 2023, to prevent a Syrian cargo ship loaded with stolen Ukrainian grain from docking at the port of Tripoli in Lebanon.

Reuters quoted the Ukrainian mission at the time, saying that the ship “Phoenicia” was transporting six thousand metric tons of corn, which it considered stolen from the port of Sevastopol on the Black Sea.

 

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