Syrian regime to recognise Donetsk, Luhansk secession from Ukraine
Syria would be the first country bar Russia to formally recognise the two parts of Ukraine as independent republics.
Shortly before Russia's 24 February invasion of Ukraine, the Syrian regime and Yemen's Houthi rebels backed Moscow's recognition of the breakaway Ukrainian regions, despite international outcry.
On Thursday, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad pledged to a delegation from Donetsk, headed by the breakaway region's self-declared foreign minister Natalia Nikonorova, that his regime would go a step further and recognise the republics, Denis Pushilin, head of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said on Telegram.
"The President of the Syrian Arab Republic noted the readiness of the state to recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics," the DPR’s foreign ministry said.
Pushilin said that at the meeting, Assad "announced the official start of the procedures" for recognising Donetsk.
Russia is the Syrian regime's main ally, helping keep Assad propped up through years of civil war.
Both countries have committed massive war crimes in their battle against the opposition.
Moscow has also backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region - also accused of war crimes - where Donetsk and Luhansk are located.
Russia recognised Donetsk and Luhansk as republics on 21 February, three days before it invaded Ukraine. The Assad regime quickly backed Russia's recognition of the breakaway regions.
The ongoing war in Ukraine has killed thousands of civilians and displaced millions more.
Ukraine is suffering about 1,000 military deaths and injuries a day in the Donbas region, a Ukrainian official said Wednesday.