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Syrian President Assad Says Russia Hasn't Asked Him To Step Down

Syria -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave an exclusive interview to AFP in the capital Damascus, February 11, 2016

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Russia hasn't asked him to step down as part of a negotiated settlement of the civil war in his country.

In an interview with AFP on February 12, Assad also said Russia hasn't asked for a second air base in Syria and that his goal in continuing to fight despite peace efforts is to regain control over all of Syria.

"This issue has not been raised at all in any shape or form," Assad said after being asked whether Russia has tried to persuade him to step down.

"The Russians treat us with great respect. They do not treat us as a superpower dealing with a minor state, but as a sovereign state dealing with a sovereign state," he said.

Despite the truce announced in Munich earlier on February 12, Assad said "it does not mean that we stop fighting terrorism" and vowed to keep bombarding what he called terrorist groups with Turkish and Saudi Arabian backing around Aleppo.

The truce does not cover terrorist groups such as Islamic States or Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda's Syrian affliate, but Syria and Russia have put other rebel groups they are fighting in the same terrorist category.

With reporting by AFP