The head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, told a Russian channel that the continued presence of Russian military bases in his country helps counter the influence of Western powers in the region, on the fifth anniversary of the Russian intervention in Syria.
In an interview conducted by Zvezda TV channel of the Russian Defense Ministry, Al-Assad said that the two main Russian bases are important in facing the Western military presence in the region, considering that “this international balance needs the role of Russia.”
Al-Assad also considered that Syria benefits from this “balance”, and that it needs such a presence, which the leaders of the Syrian regime’s army describe as facing American hegemony in the region.
Al-Assad considered that his army was facing a “dangerous situation” before the Russian military intervention, with the armed opposition obtaining funding and equipment from other parties, and after the opposition took control of most of Syria 5 years ago.
Russia controls the Hmeimim base from which air strikes are launched to support Assad, and the Tartus naval facility, which is Moscow’s only naval base on the Mediterranean, and has been using it since the era of the Soviet Union.
Russia began its direct intervention in Syria in 2015, allowing the regime to regain most of the territory it lost in the conflict.
Russia then strengthened its permanent military presence in 2017 following an agreement with the regime, as a Russian document published in late August showed that the regime gave Russia an additional area of land and a sea area to expand its air base in Hmeimim.
Western countries and supporters of the Syrian opposition say that the Russian and Syrian bombing amounts to war crimes, and that Russia and the regime are responsible for the displacement of millions and the deaths of more than a million civilians.