GAZETA.RU (Russia)

MOSCOW - Russia and Syria are in talks to establish a new free-trade zone, the latest sign that Moscow will stand by their man in Damascus.

In an interview with ITAR-TASS news agency, Russian Vice-Premier Alexander Khloponin announced the possibility of a new free trade zone to expand commerce between Syria and the Customs Union, which includes Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia , Gazeta.ru news website reports.

Syria’s Finance Minister added that Damascus is likewise awaiting the agreement’s signature. The negotiations come as Russia continues to block any international action against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, which has been widely condemned for human rights abuses against members of the opposition.

Read the full story in Russian