0534 GMT April 04, 2020
Putin told a meeting of leaders of ex-Soviet nations in Kazakhstan that the Russian military has achieved "impressive" results during the air campaign in Syria that began on Sept. 30, AP reported.
"Dozens of control facilities and ammunition depots, hundreds of terrorists and a large number of weapons have been destroyed," he said.
Putin reaffirmed that the Russian bombing blitz against the ISIL and other Takfiri groups in Syria will continue "for the period of the Syrian troops' offensive operations against terrorists," but wouldn't elaborate.
He said between 5,000 and 7,000 people from Russia and other ex-Soviet nations are fighting alongside ISIL terrorists.
"We can't allow them to use the experience they have just gained in Syria back home," he said.
Russian jets have flown more than 600 combat sorties since start of the air campaign, said Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov of the Russian Army's General Staff.
Kartapolov said the Russian jets haven't yet faced any surface-to-air missiles and warned that their use by the terrorists would signal a foreign involvement.
Following a similar statement by Putin, Kartapolov firmly ruled out Russian military involvement in any ground action in Syria.
He also reacted angrily to US Defense Secretary Ash Carter's comments warning that Russia would suffer casualties in Syria, saying the statement was "highly unprofessional."
Kartapolov said Russian air and land assets in Syria will be pulled together with its Soviet-era Tartus navy facility in one base.