Selin ATAY-TDO- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Russian-owned air and naval bases in his country had helped “counter the influence of Western powers in the region” and maintain the balance.
The Syrian President was a guest on a Russian Defense Ministry television channel on the fifth anniversary of Russia's intervention in the war in Syria. Assad said the two Russian main bases in Syria were crucial to the West's fight against its military presence in the region.
In his interview, the Syrian President quoted senior Syrian soldiers as saying that they needed such a (military) presence to counter US influence in the region. "Russia's role is needed in this global military balance. Military bases were needed, and we're taking advantage of that. " Bashar al-Assad said.
Russia has Hmeymim Air Base in Latakia, Syria, and a military naval base in the Soviet Union-era port of Tartus.
In 2015, Russia launched its first attacks in Syria in support of the Damascus administration.
In an interview with the television program, Assad also touched on the state of the Syrian army before Moscow's military intervention. Assad said the Syrian army remains in a "dangerous situation" against the armed opposition, which is directly funded and equipped by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as the United States and Western states.
In addition, the Syrian President said that before Russia's intervention, armed opposing groups had also captured important cities and towns. The Damascus administration managed to reclaim most of the seized territory thanks to the air power provided by Russia and the support of pro-Iranian militias.
Meanwhile, the United States, Western states and the domestic opposition argue that Russian and Syrian attacks constitute war crimes. It also claims that Russian and Syrian interventions have led to the displacement of millions of civilians, as well as the death of thousands of civilians.