Putin Coalition: Russia’s Airstrikes in Syria Will Last 3-4 Months

Putin Coalition: Russia’s Airstrikes in Syria Will Last 3-4 Months
Fri Oct 2, 2015 14:59:16

Russia estimates its air strike campaign in Syria could last three to four months, the head of the lower house of the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee said on Friday.

"There is always a risk of being bogged down but in Moscow, we are talking about an operation of three to four months," Alexei Pushkov, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told French radio station Europe 1, as reported by Reuters.

He added that the strikes were going to intensify.

Pushkov was speaking a few hours before Putin was due to meet leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine in Paris for talks about Ukraine which were likely to be overshadowed by the conflict in Syria.

Pushkov said the strikes mainly targeted Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant forces in spite of reports they had concentrated on opponents to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The opponents to Bashar are very close to ISIL,” Pushkov said amid allegations by US sources who have said the Russians actually hit facilities of a US-backed group, some of whose militants received training and support from the CIA.

Pushkov said the US-led coalition had "pretended" to bomb ISIL forces for a year.

“They pretended... Only 20 percent of their (US led coalition) operations produced results, 80 percent of them did not lead to bombardments, they returned to base for different reasons,” Pushkov said.

Russia, which launched its first air strikes on Wednesday, has been supporting Assad's government since the beginning of the West-fuelled conflict in Syria in 2011.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama discussed the crisis on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Monday and agreed to start talks to avert military clashes by parallel air campaigns.

Pushkov said there were would be first contacts between US and Russian military officials on Friday to discuss operations in Syria, where the Cold War superpowers are engaged in combat over the same country for the first time since World War Two.

On Friday, Pushkov also said Russian submarines with nuclear missile launching capabilities patrolling the Atlantic were a "response" to NATO's plans to build up its operations in Eastern Europe. "These are the rules of the game.... So this is a response," Pushkov said. Tasnim reported.

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