Russia lawmakers mull indefinite military presence in Syria

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The Russian parliament on Friday debated ratifying a treaty with Syria that allows Russian troops to stay indefinitely in the Mideast country, with lawmakers strongly backing the deal in a show of support for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The development comes against the backdrop of a Syrian army onslaught, backed by Russian warplanes, on the rebel-held eastern part of the city of Aleppo in northern Syria. Since the collapse of a U.S.-Russia-brokered cease-fire last month, ties between Moscow and Washington have grown even more strained.