3.10.15

Russia in Syria

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Russian President Vladimir Putin leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris at the end of a summit on the Ukraine crisis with leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine, October 2, 2015. (AFP)
Presstv.com
 Russian President Vladimir Putin says one of the key objectives of Moscow’s anti-terror airstrikes in Syria is to preserve the Arab country’s territorial integrity.
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Russia’s air support “for offensive operations of the Syrian army also pursues a main goal of maintaining territorial integrity of this country," Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov quoted him as saying during a Friday meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Paris, the Interfax news agency reported.
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Putin told Hollande that Russian bombers are carrying out their operation " in strict compliance with the international law" and "at the request of the Syrian leadership," Peskov stated.
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Hollande, for his part, told Putin that the airstrikes must be limited to attacking the Daesh terrorist group, not other terrorists operating in Syria, which the West labels them as “moderate rebels.”
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"What I told Mr. Putin is that the strikes must concern Daesh, and only Daesh," Hollande told reporters after the meeting.
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Putin later discussed the crisis in Syria in a separate Friday meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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The leaders “said very clearly that Daesh was the enemy that we needed to fight," Merkel told reporters after the talks.
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Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since March 2011. Syrian forces have since been battling terrorists on different fronts throughout the country.
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Moscow began its military campaign against terrorists on September 30 upon a request from the Damascus government, shortly after the upper house of the Russian parliament gave Putin the mandate to use military force in Syria.


A warplane which activists say belongs to the Russian forces flies in the sky over the southern countryside of Idlib, Syria, October 2, 2015. (Reuters)
On Friday, Russian media quoted Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying that the country’s air force carried out six precision strikes against Daesh positions in Syria.
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“Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes have fully destroyed a large landmine and improvised explosive device production facility, which was disguised as a gas container plant, in the area of Maaret-al-Numan, Idlib province,” he said.
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According to the Russian official, a nearby terrorist base was dismantled in the attack. Russian air force jets also targeted an underground militant command post in Hama province.
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'Nonsense pseudo-sensations'
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The Russian raids have drawn criticism from Western governments and their allies in the Middle East, which have been supporting the militants operating in the region.
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The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey released a joint statement on Friday, criticizing the Russian airstrikes that they said had not targeted Daesh positions.
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In response, Russia's Defense Ministry said mainstream media reports about Moscow’s operation in Syria were "total nonsense."
"These pseudo-sensations are total nonsense and haven't enough factual basis to name or even discuss in detail. I call your attention to the fact that the information provocations emerging today were prepared hastily before the beginning of the operation," said Konashenkov.

(From left to right) German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Porochenko and French President Francois Hollande talk on the Ukraine crisis at the Elysee Palace in Paris, October 2, 2015. (AFP)
Ukraine conflict
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Following the separate Friday meetings, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko joined the presidents of Russia, France and Germany for about five hours of talks on the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
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The four leaders agreed to postpone local elections in Ukraine to make sure that they meet international standards.
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Putin told the other leaders that the case of local elections in Ukraine’s east will cause problems if considered separately from the issue of political reforms in Ukraine, according to his spokesman.
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During February negotiations in the Belarusian capital Minsk, the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine, known as the Normandy Four or the Normandy Quartet, agreed on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Ukraine’s frontlines and a ceasefire, which officially went into effect in mid-February. The warring sides, however, have continued to engage in sporadic clashes.
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The Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, comprising of the two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, has been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev’s military operation started in April 2014 in a bid to crush pro-Russia protests there.

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The crisis has so far left some 8,000 people dead and 18,000 others injured, according to the United Nations.(Other reports say 50,000 dead....30,000 injured and 2-3 million internal and external refugees)