Putin pledges not to hit Syrian opp. areas

Russian president says they will work with regional countries not to target 'moderate opposition' groups

Putin pledges not to hit Syrian opp. areas

World Bulletin / News Desk

Vladimir Putin has said Russian war planes will not target “moderate” opposition-held areas in Syria.

"We have agreed to contact the regional countries to learn in which areas moderate opposition exists. Russian Air Forces will not conduct operations there," the Russian president told a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande.

The pair had held a bilateral meeting at the Kremlin.

Turkey summoned the Russian envoy in Ankara last week over the bombing of villages in Syria’s predominantly Turkmen Bayirbucak region, demanding Moscow end the operation.

Almost 7,000 Turkmen have recently been displaced due to repeated air and ground assaults by Syrian regime forces and Russian warplanes.

Putin maintained that they want to establish a wider anti-terror coalition under the umbrella of the United Nations.

"Today we decided to bolster our cooperation in counter-terrorism, exchange information and enable joint work by our military authorities, which will make our anti-terror efforts more efficient," he said.

The Russian leader argued that the Syrian people should decide the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, describing his regime as a "natural ally" in the anti-terror fight.

"The fight against terrorism in Syria is impossible without ground operations. There is no alternate power in Syria but the Assad army that is capable of it, so Assad is a natural ally in the anti-terror fight," he said.

Putin also said that air offensives had intensified over Syria's northern region – close to Turkmen district of Bayirbucak – where a Russian warplane was downed on Tuesday after violating Turkish airspace.

The incident has been the source of a recent diplomatic spat between Ankara and Moscow.

Putin claimed there were no Turkmen in the region they hit but fighters that came from Russia to join terrorist groups.

The president described the "breakdown in high-level relations, achieved with Turkey in the past decade" as deplorable, saying whether to apologize or not is Turkey's choice.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a televised interview with CNN International on Thursday night: "It is not us who should apologize, but those who violated our airspace.

“Our pilots from the Armed Forces just performed their duties, which was a response to a breach of the rules of engagement. That's the essence of the incident."

Hollande stressed that a political solution was the key to overcoming the crisis in Syria, saying: "Assad cannot play a role in Syria's future."

He stated that Paris would work in cooperation with Moscow in the anti-terror fight in Syria, adding that their joint efforts would not pose any obstacle to the will of France to help find a political solution for the crisis in Ukraine.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Kasım 2015, 11:11