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Medvedev Reaffirms Moscow's Support For Syria's Assad

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says Moscow will not end its military action in Syria until the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is able to achieve a favorable peace.

Medvedev made the comments in an exclusive interview with Time magazine published on February 15.

He added that antigovernment rebels "who run around with automatic weapons" were fair game for Russian air strikes. "They are all bandits and terrorists," Medvedev said.

The Russian premier said that peace will only come to Syria when Assad sits down to negotiate with rebel forces "who are capable of reaching an agreement," but added that "that circle of people still has to be determined." Medvedev also said the peace process would have to include a determination about Assad's future role in Syria "because otherwise it would be strange."

He added that Russia will never ask Western countries to lift sanctions imposed over Moscow's annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea and its military and political support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.