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Putin urges Merkel against ‘alienation’ as Syrian strikes continue
October 3, 2015, 2:19 pm

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Merkel had discussed the Syrian crisis earlier on Friday at the Elysee Palace in Paris on 2nd October 2015 [PPIO]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had discussed the Syrian crisis at the Elysee Palace in Paris on 2nd October 2015 [PPIO]

As Western leaders reacted bitterly to Russian military attacks against terrorist groups in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday urged the German leadership to boost “positive cooperation” rather than “alienation” in its ties with Moscow.

“Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that in the current complicated international situation it is very important not to allow any alienation and to retain the positive cooperation potential that has been accumulated over the years,” said a Kremlin statement.

Putin was congratulating German Chancellor Angela Merkel on their national holiday, the Day of German Unity.

“The unification of Germany a quarter of a century ago signalled the end of the Cold War in Europe and opened up a new chapter in the history of relations between our two countries,” Putin said.

Putin and Merkel had discussed the Syrian crisis earlier on Friday at the Elysee Palace in Paris ahead of the Normandy format talks on settling the situation in Ukraine.

After talks with Putin, Merkel said that “Daesh (Islamic State) was the enemy and must be fought”.

“I reminded President Putin that the strikes must concern only Daech (IS) and we do not make other targets,” French President Francois Hollande said Friday in a joint press conference with Merkel.

On Saturday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Russian airstrikes against ISIL were in effect aiding the “butcher” President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

“It’s absolutely clear that Russia is not discriminating between Isil [IS] and the legitimate Syrian opposition groups and, as a result, they are actually backing the butcher Assad and helping him,” Cameron said.

Cameron was echoing US President Barack Obama who said on Friday that “Putin had to go into Syria not out of strength but out of weakness, because his client, Mr. Assad, was crumbling”.

“Iran and Assad make up Mr. Putin’s coalition at the moment. The rest of the world makes up ours.  So I don’t think people are fooled by the current strategy,” claimed Obama.

Russia on Saturday pressed ahead with its aerial campaign in Syria, bombing the Islamic State group’s stronghold.

Russia began sorties over Syria on Wednesday.

Russian aviation has conducted over 60 flights hitting more than 50 infrastructure facilities of the Islamic State in Syria, Andrei Kartapolov, Deputy Head of the Russian Armed Forces’ general staff, said Saturday.

More than 600 militants have left their positions following the Russian airstrikes, Kartapolov added.

“According to the intelligence data, militants are leaving their positions,” General Staff Deputy Chief of the Russian Armed Forces said.

SU-34 fighters jet dropped a concrete busting BETAB-500 bomb on a command post in the area of IS stronghold Raqa, it said, releasing a video of the strike.

“A powerful explosion in the bunker means that it was also used by terrorists to store a large amount of ammunition,” it said.

Russia said its jets also destroyed an ammunition warehouse near the city of Jisr al-Shughur and targeted a training camp belonging to the IS group near the town of Maaret al-Numan, both in Idlib province.



TBP and Agencies