Russian bases in Syria keep balance of power in region: Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the continued presence of Russia’s major naval and air bases in his country help counter the influence of Western powers in the region as the battle to crush foreign-backed terrorists was winding down.

In an interview with Russia’s Ministry of Defense TV channel Zvezda on the fifth anniversary of Moscow’s intervention in Syria that tipped the conflict in his favor, Assad said Russia’s two main bases were important to counter the West’s military presence in the region.

“This global military balance needs Russia’s role … this needs (military) bases … we benefit from this,” Assad said, adding Syria needed such a presence that his military commanders say countered Washington’s dominance in the region, Reuters reported.

Alongside the Hmeimim base, from which Russia launches air strikes in support of the Syrian government, Moscow also controls the Tartus naval facility in Syria, its only naval foothold in the Mediterranean, in use since the days of the Soviet Union.

Russia launched air strikes in Syria in 2015 and began cementing its permanent military presence in 2017, following a deal with the Damascus government.

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