DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria says it has decided to recognize the “independence and sovereignty” of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions and establish diplomatic relations. The Syrian Foreign Ministry announcement Wednesday comes days after President Bashar Assad met a joint delegation from both regions in Damascus. Syria is a strong ally of Russia, which joined Syria’s conflict in September 2015 helping tip the balance of power in favor of Assad’s forces. Russia’s defense minister said Moscow’s forces hold nearly all of Luhansk province. And it appears that Russia now occupies roughly half of Donetsk province, according to Ukrainian officials and military analysts.
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