Putin urges West rethink on Syria as battles rage | Pakistan Today

Putin urges West rethink on Syria as battles rage

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Western and Arab governments to review their policy on war-torn Syria on Thursday, as battles raged between rebels and army forces in several districts of Damascus.
“Why should Russia be the only one reassessing its position? Perhaps our negotiating partners should reassess their position,” Putin told Russia Today television. “To us, the most important thing is to end the violence, to force all the sides in the conflict… to sit down at the negotiating table, determine the future and ensure the security of all the participants of the domestic political process,” he said.
“Only then move on to these practical steps about the internal organisation of the country itself.” Putin has previously rejected providing asylum to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and insisted that it still viewed either him or his representatives as an integral part of the negotiating process. Moscow has stirred Western and Arab world anger by vetoing three UN Security Council resolutions that would have slapped sanctions on Assad during the nearly 18-month conflict. The interview comes amid efforts by Putin to repair a foreign policy image hurt by Russia’s refusal to back calls for Assad to go amid bloodshed since March 2011 that monitors say has claimed as many as 26,000 lives.
The Russian foreign ministry, meanwhile, said it had full assurance that the chemical weapons stockpile amassed by the regime was safe and would not be used against Assad’s foes. “We are fully confident — and have the official assurance from Damascus — that this country’s government is taking all the necessary measures to guarantee the chemical arsenal’s safety,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. “We exclude the possibility of chemical arms being used for combat purposes,” Ryabkov told Interfax. On the ground, the two kidnapped brothers of a Syrian rebel commander were killed on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, as battles raged between rebels and army forces in several districts of the capital.
The men were kidnapped on Wednesday night at an army checkpoint, said the Britain-based monitoring group. They were found dead in the Qadam district of Damascus amid a sharp increase in reports of abductions across the country.

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