Assad praises Russia during patriarch's Syria trip
Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday praised Russia for its support, during a visit by Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill to Syria, according to the official SANA news agency.
In a meeting with Kirill, Assad expressed "his respect," saying that "the Russian people and authorities took the side of the Syrian people."
Assad also emphasised the importance of the "historic relations between the two friendly countries."
The patriarch arrived in Damascus on Saturday for a visit that will take him to Syria and Lebanon said he hoped to see "the Syrian people surmount this crisis in the country and that Syria remains a country of love and peace," SANA said.
Assad's regime has since March been trying to suppress a popular revolt, in which more than 3,500 people have been killed, according to UN figures.
Russia has rejected tough UN sanctions against Assad's regime for his deadly crackdown on the opposition, fearing that the move could lead to foreign military intervention similar to the one Moscow opposed in Libya.
© 2011 AFP