Putin Says ‘Legal Authority’ Must Keep Power in Assad’s Syria

Syria risks turning into an “uncontrollable spawning ground” for terrorism, Russian President Vladimir Putin says in interview with France’s Europe 1 radio and TF1 channel, according to transcript emailed by Kremlin. * Islamist rebel groups in Syria directly linked to al-Qaeda * Russia fears Syria may fall apart like Sudan, follow in footsteps of Afghanistan, Iraq * “This is why we would like the legal authority to remain in power in Syria, so that Russia can cooperate with the Syrian people and our partners in Europe and the U.S. in order to transform Syrian society, to modernize it and make it more viable and humane” * NOTE: Russia is key ally for Syria along with Iran, fulfilling multi-billion-dollar arms deals signed with Syrian govt * NOTE: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad set for new term after

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