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article imagePutin admits Russia gives Syria's Assad military support

By Marcus Hondro     Sep 6, 2015 in World
Russian President Vladimir Putin has at last admitted that his country is providing military support to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. He used the war against terror as the reason for that support.
"We are already giving Syria quite serious help with equipment and training soldiers, with our weapons," Putin told Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti news agency in Vladivostok. "We really want to create some kind of an international coalition to fight terrorism and extremism."
There are accusations that Russia, in addition to providing weapons, training and logistical support to al-Assad, ongoing for a lengthy period of time, is setting up a forward operation base in Syria.
Russia has been accused of supporting al-Assad, suspected by the U.S. of directing chemical weapons at his own people, with weapons and other aid, since 2011, before ISIS became a major player in the area one year ago.
But Putin's remarks at a Vladivostok economic summit claimed his country was only supporting al-Assad in order to help America and the world fight terrorism. "To this end, we hold consultations with our American partners," Putin said. "I have personally spoken on the issue with US President Obama."
Civilian deaths in Syria
The Obama administration, however, has warned Putin about stepping up military support to what it considers al-Assad's oppressive regime. The Daily Mail in the U.K., along with other media, have reported that claims have been made by the Syrian rebel army that "soldiers speaking Russian have been seen fighting anti-government rebels in Russian-made vehicles."
There are conflicting reports of how many of the dead in Syria since the civil war began in 2011 are of civilians and how many are soldiers from either side or members of ISIS.
Most often of late the number of civilian dead since the conflict began is said to be as many as 220,000, with tens of thousands injured and over 4 million having fled the country; some 5,000 people are believed to be leaving every day. Before the fighting began, Syria had a population of about 23 million.
The al-Assad family has ruled the country in a dictatorship supported by the military since 1971; Bashar al-Assad became leader upon his father's death in 2000. He has long had a close relationship with Russia.
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