May 29, 2018 / 4:12 PM / in 24 days

Georgia to sever diplomatic ties with Syria after recognition of separatists

TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgia said on Tuesday it had started procedures to sever diplomatic relations with Syria after Damascus recognized its breakaway regions as independent states, a move Tbilisi dubbed manipulation from Russia.

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 South Ossetia and Abkhazia in August 2008. After it ended, Moscow, whose forces triumphed, recognized both regions as independent countries. The move was followed by Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru.

Georgia, backed by the United States and European Union, said the Russian operation was a naked land grab.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that recognition of its breakaway regions by Syria was an illegal move and disregarded international law.

“With this act the Assad regime declared its support for Russia’s military aggression against Georgia, the illegal occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions (South Ossetia) and the ethnic cleansing that has been taking place for years,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia calls on the international community to duly assess the illegal decision of the Assad regime made as a result of manipulation by the Russian Federation and to undertake the relevant steps in response.”

Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Peter Graff

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