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MOSCOW, September 27. /TASS/. Russia provides military assistance only to the regular army of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin told US journalist Charlie Rose in an interview with CBS and PBS ahead of the 70th session of UN General Assembly.
"Concerning our, as you put it, presence in Syria, as of today it has taken the form of weapons supplies to the Syrian government, personnel training and humanitarian aid to the Syrian people," the Russian leader said. "There is only one regular army there. That is the army of Syrian President al-Assad," he stressed.
He noted that Russia acts "based on the United Nations Charter, i.e. the fundamental principles of modern international law, according to which this or that type of aid, including military assistance, can and must be provided exclusively to legitimate government of one country or another, upon its consent or request, or upon the decision of the United Nations Security Council."
"In this particular case, we act based on the request from the Syrian government to provide military and technical assistance, which we deliver under entirely legal international contracts," Putin explained. "In my opinion, provision of military support to illegal structures runs counter to the principles of modern international law and the United Nations Charter. We have been providing assistance to legitimate government entities only," the Russian leader stated.
The army of Syrian President Bashar Assad "is confronted with what some of our international partners interpret as an opposition," Putin continued. "In reality, al-Assad's army is fighting against terrorist organisations," he noted. "You should know better than me about the hearings that have just taken place in the United States Senate, where the military and Pentagon representatives, if I am not mistaken, reported to the senators about what the United States had done to train the combat part of the opposition forces. The initial aim was to train between 5,000 and 6,000 fighters, and then 12,000 more. It turns out that only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained, and as few as 4 or 5 people actually carry weapons, while the rest of them have deserted with the American weapons to join ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - former name of the Islamic State terrorist organization]," he said.
The Russian president also reminded that Russia offers cooperation to all countries in the region. "We are trying to establish some kind of coordination framework. I personally informed the President of Turkey, the King of Jordan, as well as the Saudi Arabia of that, we informed the United States too, and Mr Kerry [State Secretary], whom you have mentioned, had an in-depth conversation with our Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on this matter; besides, our military stay in touch and discuss this issue. We would welcome a common platform for collective action against the terrorists," Putin stated.
A military-diplomatic source earlier told TASS that Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq established an information center in Baghdad for coordinating efforts in fighting against the Islamic State (IS). According to the source, successful activities of the center will create conditions for forming a coordination committee in the future tasked with planning operations and managing units of armed forces of these four countries fighting against IS.
Representatives of General Staffs of Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq will work in the Baghdad-based center. The center will be mainly tasked with collecting, processing, generalizing and analyzing the information about the situation in the Middle East in the context of fighting against IS, as well as distributing and transferring data to respective General Staffs. According to the source, officers of the armed forces of the four countries will head the information center for three months on a rotational basis.