Russian President Vladimir Putin (Image: AA)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Image: AA)

Moskow, 3 Rabiul Akhir 1437/213 January 2016 (MINA) – Russia could give asylum to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad if he is forced to leave his country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview published Tuesday.

“It was surely more difficult to grant Mr Snowden asylum in Russia than it would be in the case of Assad,” Putin told Germany’s most popular tabloid, Bild, referring to former US intelligence worker turned whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who was given asylum in Russia in 2013, Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) quoted DPA as reporting.

Putin said it was too early to say whether Russia would have to shelter al-Assad, whose country has disintegrated in a civil war that has lasted almost five years.

“First the Syrian population has to be able to vote, and then we will see if Assad would have to leave his country if he loses the election,” Putin said.

Putin admitted that he thinks al-Assad has “done much wrong over the course of this conflict.” But he added: “the conflict would never have become so big if it had not been fueled by outside of Syria – with weapons, money and

Putin reiterated Russia’s position that it is supporting al-Assad, a longtime ally, in an effort to avert a failed state scenario like in Libya. (T/R07/R03 )

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)