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Syria’s Assad hails Russia’s takeover of Crimea

DAMASCUS (Syria): Syrian President Bashar Assad says Russia’s military takeover of Crimeareflects President Vladimir Putin’s “wise policy” and his efforts to restore “security and stability” in Ukraine after an “attempted coup.”

In a letter addressed to the Russian president, Assad claims Putin’s move in eastern Ukraine prevented “terrorist extremists” from taking power in Kiev.

Assad’s comments — his first since the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis last month — were carried by the Syrian state news service late on Thursday.

Russia has been an adamant supporter of Assad through the 3-year-old conflict that started as a largely peaceful uprising against his rule but turned into a civil war that has claimed at least 140,000 lives.

Assad says his troops are fighting Islamic extremists who want to destroy Syria.

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