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Russia Warns Against Regime Change In Syria

Russia has warned the United States against striking at Syrian government forces, saying regime change in the country could "plunge the region into total chaos."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the comments on June 17 while asked to comment about an internal memo in which dozens of U.S. State Department employees called for air strikes against Assad's forces.

The document was reportedly signed by 51 mid- and high-level State Department officers involved in formulating U.S. policy in Syria.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the calls for military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government "can't but worry any reasonable person."

"Who would bear responsibility for that?" he asked. "Or shall we see the same Hollywood-style smile as it happened already in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya?"

Russia launched a bombing campaign in Syria in September, helping Assad's forces regain some ground against the rebels.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he expects the United States to work with its allies to encourage the Syrian opposition to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Damascus government.

"We must think about the possibilities of incorporating representatives of the opposition into the active ruling structure," Putin said on June 17 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

He said that creating a new government that will have the trust of most of Syria's population is key to ending the five-year conflict.

This goal can only be achieved through drafting a new constitution and holding new elections, he added.

Putin said Syrian President Bashar Assad had pledged to help achieve that.

The Russian president said the most important thing for Syria was not for Assad to establish control over territory but for overall faith in the authorities to be restored.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, dpa, and Interfax

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