Russia has fulfilled the tasks that it set for the military operation in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Thursday after the BRICS summit.
"When it comes to Russia's own interests, they lay first and foremost in preventing many trained and prepared militants with combat experience from infiltrating Russian territory. In this sense, we cannot say that we resolved 100% of tasks, but in general we did. We have fulfilled the task that we had set for ourselves in Syria," TASS quoted Putin as saying.
After Syrian border guards were stationed at the Syrian-Turkish border, more information became available on who stays in camps, he added. "We know that there are hundreds of militants who came from Russia, several thousand from CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] countries. And how many were destroyed? Not less than that, maybe even more," he stressed.
Putin reminded that after Russia started actively supporting the legitimate government in Damascus, 90% of the country's territory was liberated from terrorists. "Not only liberated, but also returned under the control of the legitimate government. We have achieved what we had set out to do," he noted.
The Russian leader added that the US government and President Donald Trump have also contributed to the fight against terrrorism in Syria, but unbiased observers will be able to recognize Russia's role in this process. "When it comes to the US contribution to the fight against terrorism in Syria, they did contribute. We should recognize that, as well as the contribution made by President Trump. However, before Russia came and took active part in this, the international coalition did not achieve any significant results in several years," he said.
Political process in Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he hopes that the process of political settlement in Syria will help improve relations between the country's government and opposition.
"I really hope that in the course of the political process in Geneva, in the course of working on amending or adopting a new Syrian constitution, the situation will improve, and the relations between the government and opposition will be established, and significant new solutions will be found to improve the situation in the country in general," he said. The Russian leader also said he hopes that political dialogue will help "fully restore Syria's territorial integrity."
He added that he remains in close contact with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "I know that he has concerns about several organizations, but we agreed in our last telephone conversation that, considering the level of our cooperation, the Turkish side will promptly and routinely share their concerns about different situations in the zone that is most worrisome for Turkey, with Russian colleagues. If we really see that there are violations there, we are ready to react," Putin said.
US military presence in Syria
Moscow does not consider US military presence in Syria as legitimate, Putin stressed. "There are questions about the eastern bank of the Euphrates river, where militants are still operating, and where there is still foreign military presence, including US presence. I have said many times that we don't consider their presence there as legitimate," Putin said.
He added that he considers US presence in Syria as illegitimate because "those armed units are stationed there not on the invitation of the Syrian government or in the framework of a UN Security Council resolution." "This military presence is illegal," he stressed.
Countries involved in working on the Syrian issue have many tasks in the Idlib de-esclation zone, he noted. "A lot of militants are concentrated there, and they flee to other countries, including Libya," Putin said.
Fight against terrorism
The Russian leader has called on other countries to join efforts in the fight against terrorism. "There is a threat of infiltration for all countries, a threat that militants will leave Syria and go to other places," Putin said. "Everyone is in danger, that's why we need to join efforts. I hope we will work together in a constructive manner," he added.
He reminded that this represents a serious issue for European countries in particular. "We know tragic cases when militants who had acquired combat experience in Syria, struck several European capitals," Putin noted.
He added that there is an element of joint work on fighting against terrorism with many countries, including the United States.