Assad about Russian military's presence in Syria
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that Russian forces were needed in the country long-term and for more than just fighting terrorism.
"Russian armed forces are needed for balance in our region, at least in the Middle East, until the global political balance changes. And this might not even happen, we do not know. So it is important and necessary,” Interfax cited Assad as saying.
The Syrian president added that Syria’s agreement with Russia over the Hmeimim military base was signed to last over 40 years, indicating that the relationship between the two countries was of a long-term nature.
He stressed that the rapid return of refugees to Syria is the main issue being discussed between Damascus and Moscow. "We call on refugees, especially on Syrians who had businesses here, to return," TASS cited Assad as saying.
According to the Syrian president, Russia is a great power, and has a duty to restore a geopolitical equilibrium in world affairs. Part of this responsibility is "a political and military presence in various regions, if this is necessary," he noted.