Preemptive strike is how you fight terrorism – Putin on Syrian engagement

Russian President Vladimir Putin © Aleksey Nikolskyi
Russia will deliver preemptive strikes against terrorists, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, commenting on Russia’s airstrike campaign against ISIS forces in Syria.

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Despite its name, Islamic State has little to do with the religion of Islam, the Russian leader said. Radicals from many countries of the world, including Russia, have flocked to Iraq and Syria to join the terrorist group. They must be defeated there and not allowed to return to their home countries with battle experience and ideology adopted in the war zone, Putin believes.

He said Moscow is interested in other nations joining its counterterrorism effort in Syria. Those willing to do so can join the intelligence sharing center in Baghdad, which Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran established in the run-up to the operation, the president said.

He stressed that Russia is acting in accordance with international law, by dint of having an invitation from Damascus to assist Syria militarily. He said it was the only proper way to fight terrorism, referring to the US-led coalition, which is bombing IS targets in Syria uninvited and with no mandate from the UN Security Council.

The conflict in Syria is a complex one with genuine domestic troubles at its origin, but it was greatly worsened by the intervention of foreign actors, Putin said.

Russia opposes the notion maintained by the US and its allies that Syrian President Bashar Assad has to step down for the Syrian problem to be resolved. But Moscow expects Assad to be flexible when the terrorist threat is eliminated and a political transition is needed in the country, the Russian president said.

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