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Putin Says Russian Air Strikes To Continue In Syria As Long As Necessary

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told students in Stavropol that Russian air strikes in Syria will continue for as long as it is necessary to support Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking at the North Caucasus Federal University on January 25, Putin said Moscow's goal is to help Assad's military defeat "terrorists."

Putin said Russia has "no intention of meddling in the state structure, in solving problems faced by Syria and other countries in the region."

He said the only task of Russian forces in Syria is to help "people, help the legitimate leadership of Syria to combat terrorism, and to liquidate terrorists on Syrian soil."

His remarks come a day after suspected Russian air strikes killed at least 63 people, including nine children, in eastern Syria.

The United States and NATO say Russia has been targeting moderates in Syria who have been fighting against Assad's regime since it launched a bloody crackdown on opposition protesters in 2011.

Based on reporting by AP, Interfax, and TASS