September 4, 2018 / 6:58 PM / 3 months ago

Leader of breakaway Abkhazia meets Assad in Syria

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The leader of Abkhazia, a Russian-backed breakaway region of Georgia, met Moscow’s ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Tuesday, Syrian state news agency SANA said.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia in wars in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Georgia and Russia fought a short war over the regions in August 2008 and Moscow, whose forces triumphed, recognised both as independent countries.

Syria in May joined Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru in also recognising them. Georgia, backed by the United States and European Union, said the Russian operation was a naked land grab.

Abkhazia President Raul Khajimba and Assad discussed developing bilateral relations and thanked Syria for recognising its independence.

In July, the leader of South Ossetia also visited Damascus.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Edmund Blair

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