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Russia enjoys rare backing at UN from Syria

Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal al-Meqdad addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly
— United Nations (United States) (AFP)

Russia found rare support for its war in Ukraine at the UN General Assembly on Monday from Syria, whose leadership has relied on Moscow's support in its civil war.

"Syria reiterates its position on Russia's special military operation in Ukraine and Russia's right to defend and secure its own territory," Foreign Minister Faisal al-Meqdad told the world body.

"We are convinced that the Russian Federation is defending not only itself but justice and humanity's right to reject unipolar hegemony."

Syria has for months rallied behind Russia, recognizing Russian-backed breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine and offering to send Syrian troops to fight alongside Russia.

Russia has provided wide-ranging military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2015, helping government forces win back most of the country from the opposition and jihadists after a decade of brutal conflict that has killed half a million people.

The top Syrian diplomat's robust support of the Ukraine invasion came in contrast to speeches from other nominal Russian partners during the annual General Assembly, which closes Monday.

China, which before the war pledged wide cooperation with Russia, and India, a historic defense partner of Moscow despite warming ties with Washington, both called for dialogue to end the conflict in Ukraine.

But the junta-appointed interim prime minister of Mali, Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, saluted "exemplary and fruitful cooperation" with Russia, whose Wagner Group security firm has deployed in the West African country in defiance of Western warnings on the unit's human rights record.