In this photo released on Thursday, July 14, 2016, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, speaks during an interview with American network NBC News, in Damascus, Syria. (SANA via AP)
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Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday he has never faced pressure from Russia to step aside, as Moscow prepared to host U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on reviving peace efforts.U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura on Thursday urged Moscow and Washington to push for a resumption of the talks next month.Kerry was due to arrive later Thursday in Moscow, a close ally of Assad's government that launched airstrikes in support of government forces in September last year.In Washington, many observers have criticized Kerry's outreach to Russia on Syria, arguing he has been strung along by Putin as he seeks to protect his client Assad.Moscow has also been bombing the extremists, and Thursday said it had carried out more than 50 strikes against ISIS near the Syrian city of Palmyra in the past two days.The Washington Post reported Thursday that Washington was to offer to cooperate with Moscow in joint military action against ISIS and the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, Nusra Front.
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