MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Russian operation in Syria is aimed at protecting Moscow's interests, as well as assisting Damascus and the Syrian people, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
"I want to thank you for the work you [Russian military] are doing in Syria. I must tell you this, and you know it well, I have already said this publicly, many times. It is not just the assistance to the Syrian people and the Syrian leadership, it is the direct work to protect the interests of Russia, of our citizens," Putin said at the presentation of state awards to Russian servicemen.
Syria has been in the state of civil war since 2011, when mass anti-government protest against President Bashar Assad and the ruling party escalated into an open armed confrontation between government troops and allied militias on the one hand, and the Syrian opposition on the other.
Russia has been assisting both the government and civilians in the war-torn Syria. Since September 30, Moscow has been conducting precision airstrikes on terrorists positions in Syria, following a request from Assad.
Moreover, Moscow served as a host city for two rounds of talks between the Syrian leadership and the country's opposition, and has been engaged in intensive talks and meetings on the issue in order to find a political solution to the conflict.