Russia warns Assad on vow to retake all of Syria

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Moscow—Russia’s envoy to the UN on Friday warned long-term ally President Bashar Al Assad over his vow to retake all of Syria, saying he faced dire consequences if he did not comply with Moscow over the peace process.
“Russia has invested very seriously in this crisis, politically, diplomatically and now also militarily,” Vitaly Churkin told Kommersant daily, referring to an international agreement to cease hostilities sealed in Munich last week.
“Therefore we would like Al Assad also to respond to this,” he said, adding that the Syrian leader’s stance “is not in accord with the diplomatic efforts that Russia is making.”
At their meeting in Munich, the 17-nation group backing Syria’s peace process agreed to work for a ceasefire, the lifting of starvation sieges and the resumption of talks.
In an interview last week, Al Assad defiantly pledged to retake the whole of the country, speaking before the plan for a nationwide “cessation of hostilities” in Syria was announced.
Asked to comment to journalists on the unusually outspoken criticism of Al Assad, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday said President Vladimir Putin backed the Syrian peace process but stressed that the ceasefire had not yet been implemented.
“Everyone including President Putin recognises that there is no alternative other than a political resolution,” he said.
Nevertheless the ceasefire “is now being worked out, discussed. Wait, let’s not run ahead,” Peskov said. In the interview, Churkin, who has served as Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations since 2006, stressed that if Syria “follows Russia’s leadership in resolving this crisis, then they have a chance to come out of it in a dignified way.”—AFP