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Assad thanks Russia for help

18 September 2013, 20:00

Damascus - Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday thanked key backer Russia for helping his regime face down a "savage attack" by Western-backed rebels, state television reported.

Russia is helping "create... a new global balance", Assad said, after Moscow opposed the use of force should the Damascus regime refuse to abide by an agreement to hand over its chemical weapons stockpile.

Assad's statement came during a meeting with Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

"President Assad expressed... his gratitude to Russia for its position of helping Syria face down the savage attack... and the Western, regional and Arab-backed terrorism," he said, using the regime's term for the armed revolt in the country.

"Russia's positions on the Syrian crisis create hope of a new global balance," he added.

Ryabkov, who flew in to Damascus on Tuesday, accused UN inspectors investigating chemical attacks in Syria of being "biased and one-sided".

Russia has received "evidence that the rebels are implicated in the chemical attack", Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti and ITAR-TASS news agencies.

Damascus flatly denies using chemical weapons against opposition areas, and instead blames rebels for such attacks.

More than 110 000 people have been killed in Syria's 30-month civil war, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.



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