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Putin: Russia To Use 'More Military Means' In Syria If Necessary

  • RFE/RL

President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia’s armed forces have not utilized their full capability in Syria and would use “more military means” there if necessary.

He made the comments in a speech on December 19, a day after the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that endorses an international roadmap for a peace process in Syria, where the civil war is heading into its fifth year.

"We see how efficiently our pilots and intelligence agents coordinate their efforts with various kinds of forces - the army, navy and aviation, how they use the most modern weapons," Russian news agencies quoted Putin as saying.

"These are by far not all of our capabilities," he added. "We have more military means. And we will use them, if need be."

The UN resolution endorsing a political transition to end Syria’s war, which was drafted by the United States and Russia, passed in New York on December 18.

The peace plan calls for talks between the Syrian government and opposition in early January, a transitional government within six months, and elections under UN supervision within 18 months.

The plan also calls for a cease-fire, but there is disagreement over which armed factions -- besides the Islamic State (IS) group and the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front --should be branded “terrorists” and consequently excluded from any talks or truce.

In September, Russia began launching air strikes against armed groups in Syria, saying the IS militants and other "terrorists" were targets. But the United States and NATO have said the strikes are targeting Western-backed rebels who are fighting both the Damascus regime and IS militants.

The UN resolution also makes no mention of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s fate.

The United States and its allies have called for Assad’s departure, while Russia -- a key ally of the Syrian president -- insists that he should not be required to leave power as a precondition for peace talks.

With reporting by Reuters and the BBC