Putin Hints that Russia could Grant Asylum to Syrian President

Putin-and-al-AssadThe Russian President Vladimir Putin has hinted that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could be granted asylum in Russia.

In an interview with a German magazine, Putin said it was premature to discuss the issue to provide shelter for President Assad.

However, he said “We granted asylum to Mr. Snowden, which was far more difficult than to do the same for Mr. Assad.”

Snowden was the former NSA contractor who fled to Moscow after releasing reams of classified documents about U.S. surveillance programs.

In other parts of the interview, Putin said Russia supports Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces and will back anti-Assad rebels as long as they are fighting Islamic State.

“We support both Assad’s army and the armed opposition,” Putin said, adding that “We are coordinating our joint operations with them and support their offensives by airstrikes in various sections of the front line.”

The remarks by Putin comes as Russia has repeatedly been criticized over its airstrikes in Syria, claiming they only support the Assad regime and allegedly focus on hitting the Syrian opposition rather than Islamic State.

A surprise intervention by Putin in Syria was widely seen as an effort to prop up the current regime led by President Bashar al-Assad.

The critics also believe that the intervention was also aimed at giving Russia a seat at the table in any negotiations about the future of the country.

However, Putin rejected the criticisms and called for a new constitution i Syria followed by early elections.

“I think that President al-Assad has made many mistakes in the course of the Syrian conflict,” Putin said. “It is the Syrian people themselves who must decide who and how should run their country.” -KP

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