Palestinian President Abbas 'strongly supports' Russian intervention in Syria

Palestinian President Abbas 'strongly supports' Russian intervention in Syria
Mahmoud Abbas reportedly told a Russian official last week that he backs Moscow's military intervention in Syria 'unambiguously'.
2 min read
07 February, 2016
Mahmoud Abbas (R) "unambiguously and firmly expressed his support for Russia’s actions in Syria" [AFP/Getty]
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly expressed support for Russian military intervention in Syria, including air raids which have been used to help prop up the regime.

Abbas - who is also leader of the Fatah movement and Palestine Liberation Organisation - was said to have expressed his backing for Russian air raids in Syria during a meeting with Russia's upper house speaker Valentina Matviyenko.

Matviyenko was interviewed by Rossiya 24 TV channel after Thursday's meeting with the Palestinian leader and said Abbas "unambiguously and firmly expressed his support for Russia's actions in Syria".

Russian air raids have killed hundreds of Syrian civilians and displaced tens of thousands.

The remarks will no doubt anger many Syrians who have long suspected Fatah having sympathy for the regime.

The speaker also said Abbas backs the need to step up the fight against IS and "other terrorist groups".

"Here we have no differences," she said.

Russia says it intervened in Syria's war to help the regime fight off advances from IS.

However, independent analysts point that most of Moscow's bombs have hit armed Syrian opposition factions fighting both the Assad regime and IS.

An ongoing Russian-backed offensive in Aleppo continues, leading to tens of thousands made homeless and torpedoeing peace talks in Geneva.
Abbas reportedly praised Russia's return to the Middle East, saying this creates "balance" in the region

A delegation of Russia's upper house of parliament paid an official visit to Israel and a working visit to Palestine last week. On Wednesday, Matviyenko held talks with Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, the speaker of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

"Israel, like Russia, knows firsthand what terrorism means," she added.

"Of course, they understand the importance of the fight against terrorism and Russia’s participation in the fight against terrorism," Matviyenko said, adding that Palestine and Israel have their own opinion on this fight.

Israel and Russia are known to coordinate their military operations in Syria, with a hotline established between the main Russian airbase near Latakia and Tel Aviv.

Israel believes Russia's intervention in Syria - where regime-backed Hizballah militants are engaged - may decrease the likelihood of an Israel-Hizballah conflict erupting in the future, according to a recent Israeli army assessment.