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MOSCOW, September 28. /TASS/. The Syrian problem can only be solved by strengthening the legitimate authorities in the country, Russian President Vladimir Putin told US journalist Charlie Rose in an interview with CBS and PBS.
"There is no other way to settle the Syrian conflict other than by strengthening the existing legitimate government agencies, support them in their fight against terrorism and, of course, at the same time encourage them to start a positive dialogue with the ‘healthy’ part of the opposition and launch political transformations," Putin said.
He said Russia’s actions in Syria are aimed at Bashar Assad remaining at the helm.
"That’s right, that’s how it is," Putin told Rose who assumed that Moscow’s goal is to preserve Assad’s administration.
"We provide assistance to legitimate Syrian authorities. Moreover, I strongly believe that by acting otherwise, acting to destroy the legitimate bodies of power we would create a situation that we are witnessing today in other countries of the region or in other regions of the world, for instance, in Libya, where all state institutions have completely disintegrated," the Russian leader said.
"Unfortunately, we are witnessing a similar situation in Iraq," he said, advising all forces who want Assad to go "to forward this suggestion to the Syrian people. It is only up to the Syrian people living in Syria to determine who, how and based on what principles should rule their country."
When commenting on accusations against the Syrian leader that he is waging a war against his own people, Putin said: "And do you think that those who support the armed opposition and, mainly, terrorist organisations just in order to overthrow al-Assad without thinking of what awaits the country after the complete destruction of state institutions are doing the right thing?"
"Time and again, with perseverance worthy of a better cause, you are talking about the Syrian army fighting against its people. But take a look at those who control 60% of Syrian territory. Where is that civilised opposition? 60% of Syria is controlled either by ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra or other terrorist organisations, organisations that have been recognised as terrorist by the United States, as well as other countries and the UN," he said.