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SOCHI, October 7. /TASS-DEFENSE/. Russian President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin praised the initial results produced by the Russian Air and Space Force operation in Syria at a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. At the same time, the president remains committed to close coordination with Syrian authorities and other foreign partners and to an eventual political settlement.
Early results: good enough
Putin praises combat readiness and skills of Russian servicemen
"It is too early to tally up a total, but what has been done deserves praise," he said, adding that this applied to the work being done by both the Defense Ministry as a whole, and General Staff officers, and the personnel on site. The head of state expressed his special thanks to the pilots in Syria and the naval crews of the Caspian Flotilla.
Updates on operation
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported the early results of the air operation to the president. He said the military continued attacks on the ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups in Syria. "112 targets have been attacked since September 30. The operational tempo is increasing. Intensive intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance efforts have revealed numerous ISIL facilities over the past two days, including control centers, ammunition dumps, combat vehicles and militant training camps," the minister said.
According the defense minister, ships based in the Caspian have been used in the attacks on the terrorists too. "In the morning, Caspian Flotilla ships were used. Four [guided] missile ships conducted 26 launches of land-attack cruise missiles at 11 targets," he said. "All of the targets have been destroyed, with no civilian casualties inflicted."
Shoigu added that the outcome of the strikes proved the high effectiveness of the missiles at long range - almost 1,500 km. According to the stats he cited, 23 strike aircraft have continued their air attacks on the militants-held positions since this morning. "Since September 30, 19 control centers, 12 ammunition dumps, 71 armored vehicles, and factories and workshops making high-explosives and improvised explosive devices (IED) to fit cars, etc. Six workshops and plants like that have been destroyed. We continue to operate as planned," the minister concluded.
According to Putin, "the fact that we have launched precision-guided weapons from the Caspian at a range of around 1,500 km and hit all the targets indicates the good status of defense industry and the good skills of the personnel".
Combined operations only
The president reaffirmed his task for the Russian Armed Forces to operate in concert with the Syrian Army.
"As for further action, I expect - as we have agreed - it to be synchronized with the efforts of the Syrian Army on the ground and our Air and Space Force to effectively support the offensive operation of the Syrian Army," he said.
Putin emphasized that foreign partners in Syria could provide the Russian military with targets they regard as terrorist groups for the Russian aircraft to strike them as well. "If they [foreign partners] say they are abreast of the situation better than we are, because they have operated in Syria for over six months (illegally, by the way, as I have told them recently), let them provide us with targets they have found, and we will destroy them," Putin concluded.
World must pool efforts
The Russian leader said that at his latest meeting with French President Francois Hollande, the latter had made a proposal that could lead to a political settlement of the Syrian crisis.
"Mr. Hollande came up with an interesting idea. According to him, an attempt could be made to pool the efforts of the governmental forces - the army of President al-Assad - and the so-called Free Syrian Army," Putin said. "Truth be told, we do not know yet where it is and who leads it. However, if it is the combat arm of the so-called reasonable opposition, a good groundwork for a subsequent political settlement in Syria would be laid, if [it and the governmental forces] could pool their efforts in the fight against their common enemy - the ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations," he believes.
The supreme commander-in-chief tasked Defense Minister Shoigu with supporting the initiative and maintaining the links with other foreign partners. He added that the Russian Foreign Ministry would maintain the continued efforts in this sphere and would contact virtually all opposition forces involved in the crisis.
In addition, Putin called for continued cooperation with foreign partners, "because the job will hardly be done properly unless they - Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, Iran, Iraq and neighboring states - participate".