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People walk past a billboard depicting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at Saadallah al-Jabri Square, in the government controlled area of Aleppo, Syria December 17, 2016

© REUTERS/ Omar Sanadiki

It’s up to the Syrian people to decide their future, Vladimir Putin said.

HAMBURG (Sputnik) — The future of Syrian President Bashar Assad should be determined by the Syrian people regardless of the wishes of the US administration, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday at the final press conference after the G20 summit in the German city of Hamburg.

“[US Secretary of State Rex] Mr. Tillerson is an honorable man, he was awarded with Russia’s Order of Friendship. We respect him, but he is not a Syrian citizen. As of the future of Syria and future of President Assad as a political figure, the Syrian people should be one to determine it,” Putin said, commenting on Tillerson’s remarks concerning Assad, who according to the US state secretary, has no political future in Syria.

The civil war in Syria between the government and various opposition and terror groups has been ongoing since 2011. Moscow has repeatedly insisted that the legitimate authorities cannot be ousted by force and this issue should be settled by Syrian people. Washington, on the other hand, preferred a hardline approach toward Damascus demanding Assad to step down and supporting opposition factions. Both Russia and the United States have been conducting airstrikes on Syrian territory, although actions of the US-led coalition were not authorised by Syrian government.

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