MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia coordinates its actions in Syria with both the Syrian government-led forces and the opposition, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
"Are you aware that we support the actions of the armed opposition fighting against the Islamic State? The armed opposition to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad's that is fighting Daesh. And we coordinate our joint actions with them and support their offenses at various parts of the front with airstrikes," Putin told Germany's Bild newspaper.
Vladimir Putin denied that Russia’s military campaign in Syria is targeted not against terrorists, but against rebel forces.
"They are telling lies. Look, the videos that support this version [that Russia is hitting the wrong targets] appeared before our pilots even started to carry out strikes against terrorists. This can be corroborated. However, those who criticize us prefer to ignore it," Putin told the newspaper.
The Russia leader reminded that, while "phony evidence" about Russian pilots reportedly striking civilian targets in Syria kept circulating, Western media decided to hush up the incident of the United States bombing the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, which claimed the lives of numerous civilians and doctors.
On September 30, Russia began launching precision airstrikes at the Islamic State (ISIL, or Daesh) militant group, outlawed in Russia and many other countries, in Syria at the request of President Bashar Assad.
Vladimir Putin also said that militant groups operating in Syria and states supporting them are responsible for numerous sufferings of the civilian population in Syria amid the civil war.
"[Syrian President Bashar Assad] is fighting those who rose up against him with deadly force. And if the civilians suffer, I think that the primary responsibility for this is with those who fight against him with deadly force as well as those who assist armed groups," Putin told the newspaper.
Putin added that it was necessary to carry out political reforms in Syria and to work on the new constitution.
"As to Syria, I believe the country should move toward a constitutional reform. It is, certainly, a complicated process. And then, based on a new Constitution, early elections must be held, both presidential and parliamentary," Putin said in the interview.
According to the Russian leader, the conflict in Syria would not have escalated to a great degree if it had not been supported from abroad through supplying money, weapons and fighters.
Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with forces loyal to Assad fighting against numerous opposition factions and extremist groups. Around four million people have fled the conflict-torn country since then, according to UN estimates.