Putin: Russia provides air cover to Syrian opposition group | World Defense

Putin: Russia provides air cover to Syrian opposition group

Redheart

SENIOR MEMBER
Joined
Dec 26, 2014
Messages
1,239
Reactions
319
Country
USA
Location
USA
Putin: Russia provides air cover to Syrian opposition group

Russia has provided air cover to a leading Western-backed opposition group in Syria, President Vladimir Putin said Friday, calling for closer coordination with the U.S.-allied coalition — comments that may reflect Moscow's desire to narrow its differences with the West over the Syrian crisis.

At the same time, Putin vowed to further modernize Russia's military and said its forces in Syria will "immediately destroy" any target threatening them, a strong warning to Turkey following its downing of a Russian warplane at the Syrian border.

Speaking at a meeting with top Defense Ministry officials, Putin said while supporting the Syrian government forces, Russia has backed some units of the Free Syrian Army, a Western-backed opposition group fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's army.

"Several (FSA) units totaling more than 5,000 people, along with regular troops, are conducting offensive operations against terrorists in the provinces of Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Raqqa," Putin said. "We have provided air support for them as well as the Syrian army, helping them with weapons, ammunition and supplies."

While Putin sounded unequivocal, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a few hours later that the president meant to say that Russia is sending weapons and supplies to Syrian government forces and not the FSA, but provides air cover to both. Peskov's statement could be an attempt to assuage Assad, who calls the FSA and other moderate opposition groups "terrorists."

Putin and his officials said before that Russia had cooperated with the FSA, but the group's representatives have denied that.

If confirmed, Russian support for the FSA will represent a major policy shift for Moscow, which has been accused by the West of striking moderate rebels to back up Assad instead of its declared goal, the Islamic State group.

Asked to comment on Putin's claim, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said that "it's unclear to us also, whether these -- these claims of support for the FSA are true." He reaffirmed that "the vast majority of airstrikes conducted by Russian military aircraft are against opposition groups to Assad and not aimed at ISIL."

"By and large, there's been no major change in calculus from what we've seen them hit, and they are largely continuing to hit opposition," Kirby added.

Asked whether the coalition should coordinate more with Russia, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon dismissed Putin's statements saying Moscow has to play a more constructive role in the political transition in Syria.

"What they've got to do is stop propping up the Assad regime, stop bombing opposition groups who are opposed to the Assad regime, stop dropping unguided munitions on innocent villages and groups who've been fighting Assad, and get behind the political process that is now under way of leading that country to a more pluralist government and a future without Assad," said Fallon, who was speaking at a press conference in the Pentagon alongside U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russian warplanes have flown 4,000 combat sorties in Syria since Moscow launched its air campaign on Sept. 30, destroying 8,000 "terrorist" targets. He added that Russia moved 214,000 metric tons of supplies to support the military action in Syria and helped restore a tank repair factory in the Syrian province of Homs.

Without naming Turkey, Putin said the military should respond in full force to any further "provocations." He said the Russian military base in Syria has been beefed up with additional aircraft and air defense weapons.

"I order you to act in the toughest way," Putin said. "Any targets threatening the Russian groups of forces or our land infrastructure should be immediately destroyed."

At the same time, he said the military should "develop cooperation with all countries, which have a real interest in destroying terrorists," specifically mentioning the need to coordinate with the U.S.-led coalition and Israel to ensure flight safety.

Speaking on a visit to Rome, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov offered a rare praise for the U.S.-led coalition, saying Moscow is glad to see it has "intensified its activities," targeting oil facilities and trucks in IS-controlled territories. He emphasized the need to shut the Syrian border with Turkey, saying that Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane amounted to a "cover-up of terrorists."

The downing of a Russian bomber by a Turkish fighter jet on Nov. 24 has badly strained relations between Moscow and Ankara.

Turkey said it downed the Russian plane after it violated its airspace for 17 seconds despite repeated warnings, while Russia has insisted the plane had remained in Syrian airspace. Putin has denounced the Turkish action, ordered the deployment of S-400 long-range air defense missile systems to a Russian base in Syria and introduced a slew of economic sanctions against Turkey.

Turkey's foreign minister said Friday his country is refraining from responding, but added the country's patience has limits. "If we are not responding to all that they have done until now, it is not because we are afraid or because of any psychology of guilt," Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told NTV television.

Putin said the Russian military action in Syria is essential for protecting Russia from extremists based there. He has said between 5,000 and 7,000 citizens of Russia and other ex-Soviet nations have joined the Islamic State group.

"Our action there hasn't been prompted by some abstract geopolitical interests or a desire to train and test new weapons systems, which is important too," Putin said. "The main thing is to avert a threat to the Russian Federation."
 

vegito12

MEMBER
Joined
Dec 26, 2014
Messages
349
Reactions
41
Country
New Zealand
Location
New Zealand
I reckon this is good news to show that Syria is getting help from a country like Russia who has a strong leader and also the military is powerful and this relationship should be viewed as a business one, as Russia could ask for something in return later on in a few years time. It is nice to see the countries being united in this work and hope they keep the ISIS groups out from the country, and halts the progress and can save the lives in the process and civilians in the country from these terrorists. I think that it is important to deal with the important issues and also fight the people from the outside who are trying to cause problems to the country and hope one day the war will be won as there are tough choices to be made.
 

Redheart

SENIOR MEMBER
Joined
Dec 26, 2014
Messages
1,239
Reactions
319
Country
USA
Location
USA
To be honest though I doubt the veracity of these claims I believe that Russia might suddenly be interested in aiding Kurd fighters because they hate Turks and because their plane was shot down by Turkey this [driving back Turk rebels and their allies who are fighting Assad In Syria] is their way of getting back at Turkey indirectly. I believe that while the Kurds and Russia's interests are aligned they may get some air support. I don't know about the other Syrian rebels . . .
 

Susimi

MEMBER
Joined
Jul 4, 2015
Messages
246
Reactions
55
Country
United Kingdom
Location
United Kingdom
While I do like this announcement, I get the feeling that even if Russian aircraft did support the FSA, it was only a temporary thing and was a strategic move only.

I'd love to see western nations and Russia work more closely in destroying ISIS but with differing views on the Syrian president, I cannot see ties becoming that much closer.
 

T-123456

MEMBER
Joined
Apr 4, 2015
Messages
354
Reactions
246 1
Country
Turkey
Location
Netherlands
How can this claim be taken serious?
So,Russia is helping the enemy of Assad(its ally) by providing air cover?
Air cover against whom?
Does it sound plausible to anyone?
Really,is this a Hollywood production?
 

Gasoline

MEMBER
Joined
Nov 28, 2014
Messages
958
Reactions
989 6
Country
Saudi Arabia
Location
Saudi Arabia
Actions speak louder than words ...You say something and do something else §§•

Putin came to kill the Syrians to keep the seat of Assad. That's the fact !
 

Scorpion

THINK TANK: SENIOR
Joined
Nov 27, 2014
Messages
3,797
Reactions
4 3,139 52
Country
Saudi Arabia
Location
Saudi Arabia
Air cover my ass. Russia has been targeting the rebels since the beginning.



Black= ISIS
Blue= Russian air strikes.
 

Corzhens

MEMBER
Joined
May 26, 2015
Messages
853
Reactions
111 1
Country
Philippines
Location
Philippines
"Russia has provided air cover to a leading Western-backed opposition group in Syria" this is a positive development although I had read some sceptic comments above. So that means, if it is true, that Russia would now be sympathetic with Assad's government although it is clearly stated in the news report that Putin is still backing up the Free Syria Movement which is a rebel group against the Syrian government. Another confusing issue in Syria.
 
Top