Speaking at a Kremlin awards ceremony for troops who fought in Syria, Putin says Russia has “made the main, decisive contribution to the destruction of a criminal group that cast a challenge to the entire civilization.” He added that the Islamic State group was seeking to turn Syria into a base for “global aggression” and threaten Russia.
Putin said the more than 48,000 Russian troops who took part in the Syria campaign were fighting for their “homeland, for a just and fair cause.”
Russia launched a campaign in Syria on Sept. 30, 2015 when Bashar Assad’s regime was on the verge of collapse, quickly turning the tide of conflict in his favor. Thanks to Russian air cover and its special operations forces, Assad’s military has routed both the IS militants and the rebels and seized wide swathes of land.
The Russian leader emphasized that “Russia’s army and navy have fully shown their increased capability and successfully used state-of-the-art weapons.”
Putin noted that Russian pilots had flown 34,000 combat missions over Syria during the campaign and the Russian military conducted 166 launches of high-precision cruise missiles.