‘Russia-US cooperation will lead to fundamental changes in Syria’

Moscow, May 11 (IANS) Russia hopes that cooperation with the US and other international partners on Syria will lead to fundamental changes in that country, says Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I hope that the mechanism we have developed together with our partners, including the Americans, in which the armed forces, our representatives and experts are taking an active part… will lead to positive and fundamental changes,” Putin said during a meeting with top military officials and arms manufacturers in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday.

According to the president, the situation in Syria “remains complicated,” with the Russia-US-backed ceasefire still not fully implemented.

A lot still must be done for the Syrian Army, but the most important thing is to form conditions for the political settlement in the country,” he stressed.

Putin praised the Russian military for the bombing operation it has been carrying out against the terrorists in Syria since September 30, 2015.

“Since the start of the operation against the targets of international terrorists in Syria, Russian planes have flown more than 10,000 sorties and hit more than 30,000 targets, including some 200 oil producing and refining facilities,” he said.

Russian long-range bombers have carried out 178 combats flights, with the Navy also largely contributing to the battle against Islamic State, Al-Nusra Front and other terror groups, the president added.

Over 500 populated areas were liberated from terrorists during the Russian operation, which began at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Putin said.

The strikes against the jihadists “were accurate, powerful and effective,” he stressed.

“Precisely these factors helped achieve a radical turn in the battle against the militants.”

According to Putin, the anti-terrorist operation in Syria “clearly demonstrated the effectiveness and high quality of Russian weaponry.”

However, he stressed that the operation also revealed “some problems and shortcomings,” and urged for these issues to be thoroughly investigated and analyzed in order to be avoided in the future.

On Monday, the co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group, Moscow and Washington, issued a joint statement promising to “redouble efforts” to accomplish a political settlement of the conflict.

The statement said progress has been made with respect to the cessation of hostilities, but also highlighted that there have been certain “difficulties… in several areas of the country.”

The civil war in Syria has been raging since 2011, leading to the deaths of an estimated 400,000 people, according to UN estimates.

–IANS

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