MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Moscow's support for Damascus helped prevent the collapse of Syria and avoid massive civilian losses, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.
"Recently, it has been possible to take a number of important steps toward ensuring a peaceful settlement in Syria and countering international terrorists that have settled there. The support provided by Russia to Syria's legitimate government helped prevent the collapse of the state system and the state itself, save public institutions, and avoid massive civilian casualties," Putin said, addressing foreign diplomats at the Kremlin.
"Thanks to the successful actions of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian army…it was possible to free a number of towns, including Palmyra. In total, Syrian forces, backed by Russian aviation, were able to free a total of 400 settlements and eliminate thousands of terrorists, including from Russia and other CIS countries," the president noted.
Syria has been mired in a devastating civil war between the government, opposition factions and terrorist groups since 2011.
On September 30, Russia commenced a military operation against terrorists in Syria at President Bashar Assad's request.