Putin: ‘Russia accomplished mission in Syria’

Putin said while ‘it is to early to say’ but Russia’s operation in Syria has reinforced the Arab country’s statehood

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia’s military operation in Syria had reinforced the statehood of that country and its legitimate government but that it was too early to say a breakthrough had been reached.

“It is too early to say we have reached a crucial breakthrough, but it is evident that we have accomplished our mission,” Putin said, referring to Russia's operation in Syria.

He added that with Russia’s support Syria’s army was liberating new settlements from “terrorists.”

He made the statement in the same day when residents told AFP that around 250 Syrian civilians are feared kidnapped after an attack by ISIS on a cement factory east of Damascus.

Later, Syrian state TV said ISIS militants have kidnapped 300 cement workers in an area northeast of Damascus where the militants launched an assault against government forces this week

A source in the Syrian military said ISIS’s recent attacks outside Damascus appeared to be the militant group’s response to its reverses around Palymra.

Meanwhile, France blamed Syria’s government on Thursday for a breakdown in a truce and preventing an improvement in the humanitarian situation, the foreign Ministry’s spokesman said.

“It (France) condemns the violations of the cessation of hostilities for which the regime is responsible and the restraints placed on the work of humanitarian organizations,” Romain Nadal said in a daily briefing.

He added that the situation in a number of towns besieged by the government was worrying, in particular the town of Daraya.

Also, a leader of UN-backed humanitarian efforts for Syria says he’s “disappointed” with recent efforts to get aid convoys into hard-to-reach and besieged areas, and is calling on the government to “live up to its promises.”

Jan Egeland, the humanitarian aid adviser for the UN’s Syria envoy, told reporters Thursday in Geneva that “April was supposed to be our best month” but that aid delivery is “not getting better and better, it's actually slowing down.”

Egeland spoke during a break in UN-sponsored indirect talks between the Syrian government and the opposition delegation, which are to resume next week Humanitarian assistance to Syria’s people is part of an international response to the country’s crisis that also includes a US- and Russia-monitored cease-fire that has largely held over the last month.

In a related story, the United States and its allies conducted 27 strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria on Wednesday, the coalition leading the operations said.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Combined Joint Task Force said eight strikes near four cities in Syria hit five tactical units, disabled seven well-heads and destroyed fighting positions, a rocket system and four vehicles.

In Iraq, 19 strikes near 10 cities destroyed bridges, assembly areas, a tunnel system and a homemade explosive cache, among other targets, the statement said.

(With Reuters, AP)

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