Russia’s complex anti-ISIS campaign in Syria would be impossible without Iran – Putin

The Russian-led anti-terrorist campaign in Syria has taken center stage at the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Tehran, where President Putin met with Iranian leaders and praised their country’s role in rooting out terrorism in the region.

Meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, the Russian leader said that without Iran’s cooperation in the anti-terrorist campaign in Syria, success would have been impossible to achieve. Vladimir Putin emphasized that the Russian-led operation is a “complex” mission that also involves work coordinating the efforts of the coalition which includes Syria, Iran and Iraq.

“All this is done, of course, in agreement with the Iranian partners,” said Putin. “I think that without them it would be impossible.”

Rouhani meanwhile announced that Iran and Russia have agreed to strengthen their efforts against the common enemy and to further develop “cooperation on regional issues, in particular in the fight against terrorism.”

“Terrorism today is a formidable challenge for the region and for the whole world,” Rouhani said at a press conference following the talks. “Whereas some countries are only indulging in anti-terrorist oratory and taking demonstrative actions, our two countries have proved that this issue can be addressed seriously.”

Putin meanwhile praised the efforts of Russian pilots, who continue daily combat sorties against terrorist targets in Syria.

“I evaluate the actions of our pilots as quite positive,” Putin said. In addition to deploying vast air power, Putin stated that Russia is also using its fleet in the Caspian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to launch missiles against Islamic State targets in Syria.

“With regard to the actions of our military, it is a complex operation – involving a large space grouping, diverse air forces: attack aircraft, bombers, strategic missile bombers and fighters jets covering them,” said Putin, during the visit to Tehran to attend the third summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).

After the meeting Putin stressed that “political negotiations” are the only viable way of reaching a final resolution to the Syrian crisis, but for now, Russia’s air campaign is yielding “positive results,” an assessment that is shared by the Iranian side.

“Once again I want to say – there is no other long term possibility to solve the problem in Syria, except through political negotiations,” Putin said.

The Russian president also touched upon the Iranian nuclear program and promised to help Tehran with its processing of enriched uranium in accordance with the deal reached with the world powers this summer.

“We will provide maximum assistance ... [with] the implementation of an action plan within the framework of Iran's nuclear program, approved in July, [by] the UN Security Council,” he said after talks with Iranian President Rouhani.

Earlier, Iran’s supreme leader, at a meeting with the Russian president in Tehran, blamed US policy in the Middle East for the ongoing regional instability and conflict in Syria. The meeting between the Russian president and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lasted for almost two hours.

“The Americans have a long-term plot and are trying to dominate Syria and then the whole region ... This is a threat to all countries, especially Russia and Iran,” Khamenei said according to his website, Reuters quotes.

“The United States is now trying to achieve its failed military objectives in Syria by political means,” Khamenei said with regards to the peace talks to end the civil war in Syria.

Meanwhile Putin told the supreme leader that Russia views Iran as a “reliable ally in the region and the world.”

“Unlike certain parties, we are committed to never stab our partners in the back or take any behind-the-stage move against our friends and to resolve any differences that may arise through dialogue,” Putin added, FNA reports.

Khamenei meanwhile lashed out against US support for opposition groups in Syria calling it “dishonest diplomacy.”

“Apart from the nuclear problem, we are not going to hold bilateral negotiations with the Americans on any issues, including the Syrian crisis,” Khamenei stressed. “Unwillingness [by Washington] to accept Russia’s growing influence in the region and in the international arena affects all the US decisions and actions concerning Syrian question.”

© Alexei Druzhinin

The supreme leader also shared Putin’s long-stated stance that the Syrians must decide the future of their country on their own, without outside interference.

“Any decision on Syria should be implemented with the consent of the Syrian people and rulers,” Khamenei’s press service quoted him as saying. “The United States has no right to ignore the voice of the Syrian people.”