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Assad thanks Russia for help against ‘savage attack

DAMASCUS (AFP) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday thanked key backer Russia for helping his regime face down a “savage attack” by Western-backed rebels, state television reported.

Russia is helping “create… a new global balance”, Assad said, after Moscow opposed the use of force should the Damascus regime refuse to abide by an agreement to hand over its chemical weapons stockpile.

Assad s statement came during a meeting with Russia s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

“President Assad expressed… his gratitude to Russia for its position of helping Syria face down the savage attack… and the Western, regional and Arab-backed terrorism,” he said, using the regime s term for the armed revolt in the country.

“Russia s positions on the Syrian crisis create hope of a new global balance,” he added.

Ryabkov, who flew in to Damascus on Tuesday, accused UN inspectors investigating chemical attacks in Syria of being “biased and one-sided”.

Russia has received “evidence that the rebels are implicated in the chemical attack,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti and ITAR-TASS news agencies.

Damascus flatly denies using chemical weapons against opposition areas, and instead blames rebels for such attacks.

More than 110,000 people have been killed in Syria s 30-month civil war, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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