BEIJING, October 21. /TASS/. The visit of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Moscow reflects the degree of support for his administration in Russia, China’s Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Wednesday.
"The rare visit holds its significance as it constitutes another sign of how far the Russians are willing to support the Assad administration," the report says. The Zhongguo Xinwen She (China News Service) agency also says that the Syrian president’s visit to Moscow is exceptional, adding that Bashar al-Assad has paid a visit to a foreign state for the first time since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011.
Xinhua quotes the statements Russian President Vladimir Putin made during the meeting with the Syrian president in which he expressed readiness to provide every kind of assistance in the settlement of the Syrian issue. "We are ready to contribute as much as we can not only to the military action against terrorism, but also to the political process," Putin said in a statement released on the Kremlin website.
Putin said that Russia was ready to do this, "of course, in close contact with the other global powers and with the countries in the region that want to see a peaceful settlement to this conflict."
"On the question of a settlement in Syria, our position is that positive results in military operations will lay the base for then working out a long-term settlement based on a political process that involves all political forces, ethnic and religious groups. Ultimately, it is the Syrian people alone who must have the deciding voice here," Putin said.
Assad, for his part, thanked Russia for preventing the spread of terrorism in Syria to an even larger area and not allowing the situation to develop into a more tragic scenario, Xinhua reported. "I would like to thank the Russian people for the help that it has provided to our country, and to express the hope that we will secure a victory over terrorism and will continue to work together in order to rebuild the country economically, politically, and to guarantee peaceful coexistence of all," Assad said.
Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes at facilities of the Islamic State terrorist organisation in Syria on September 30. The air group comprises over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. Hundreds of terrorist facilities have been hit by Russian aircraft. On October 7, four missile ships of the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria. On October 8, the Syrian army passed to a large-scale offensive.
More than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four-and-a-half years of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war. More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other - as well as jihadist militants from Islamic State.