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Russia Not Assuming Leadership Through Syria Operation
International

Russia Not Assuming Leadership Through Syria Operation

The Kremlin does not agree with the US president who says Russia is trying to assume leadership through its anti-terrorist operation in Syria, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.
“It is not about the leadership. I suppose the overwhelming majority of the points of view expressed by observers, analysts in other countries is diametrically opposite to that voiced by the US president,” he said, specifying that he referred to Barack Obama’s words about the role of Russia and Russia’s motives, TASS reported.
Peskov said it was all about “the effort that Russia exerts in fight against Islamic State and other terrorist, extremist groups, and effort that is in the long run aimed at preserving Syria as a unified state”.
Focusing on the Syrian conflict, the US president alleged that “Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region”.
“And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally,” he said.

  US, Russia New Talks
New military-to-military talks will happen this weekend. Washington and Moscow have agreed on the need to ensure safe air operations in Syria.
US and Russian military officials held preliminary talks last week to avoid accidents between the two countries’ air force jets, and follow-up discussions are now likely to take place this weekend.
Initial proposals, outlined during a secure video conference, included maintaining a safe distance between US and Russian aircraft and using common radio frequencies for distress calls.
The Kremlin had initially failed to respond to the suggestions, leading Washington to rule out further discussions. But the Pentagon now says Russia has answered points raised during the initial talks.
“The Department of Defense has received a formal response from the Russian Ministry of Defense regarding DOD’s proposal to ensure safe air operations over Syria,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters, before confirming the new round of talks.
The issue of pilot safety in Syrian airspace has come to the fore after Russia stepped up its military involvement in the Syrian conflict, independently of the US-led coalition fighting the self-declared “Islamic State” militant group.

  Anti-Terrorist Offensive
Syrian state media reported on Thursday that government forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, launched an offensive in the central province of Hama and regained control over opposition-held areas.
Russian airstrikes also killed 300 suspected militants in 60 separate attacks in northern Syria within the past 24 hours, the Russian Defense Ministry said Friday.
Russia’s Deputy Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Igor Makushev addressed a briefing in Moscow during which he revealed that Russian air forces carried out 67 sorties that also killed two suspected senior IS field commanders.
“A precision hit destroyed the headquarters of Liwa al-Haqq, a group which has been fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad since 2012. Russia said that a radio intercept confirmed the deaths of 200 fighters, and two commanders, who Makushev said belonged to IS,” Russia Today said.
Meanwhile, the US says it plans to overhaul its much criticized program to train “moderate” Syrian rebels battling the Islamic State saying it would provide arms and equipment to established groups already fighting the IS group.
“I remain convinced that a lasting defeat of IS in Syria will depend in part on the success of local, motivated, and capable ground forces,” US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement on Friday.

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