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Putin: 5,000 FSA militants fighting alongside Syrian army

FSAfightersReuters
Free Syrian Army fighters. Photo Reuters.

RFERL reports on its “Tracking Islamic State” live blog:

[…] 11:57
Here’s a translation of the full quote from Putin regarding his claim this morning that upward of 5,000 Free Syrian Army fighters are attacking “terrorist” positions along with Syrian government troops.

I emphasize that the work of our air group [in Syria] is facilitating the joint efforts of government forces and the Free Syrian Army. Now several of its parts totaling more than 5,000 men are, just like the regular forces, carrying out offensives against terrorists in Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Raqqa. Apart from that, we are supporting them from the air, just like the Syrian army, we are giving them assistance with weapons, ammunition and material resources,” Putin said.

Putin was speaking at an extended Defense Ministry meeting this morning.

12:01
And here’s a full translation of Putin’s comments about the Russian military’s “harsh response” if it is threatened in Syria.

I want to warn those who are again trying to organize any sort of provocation against our military personnel. We have already taken additonal measures to safeguard Russian military personnel and air bases [in Syria]. It is reinforced with new air squadrons and air defense assets,” Putin said.

All air strike operations are carried out with fighter cover. I order you to act in a very tough manner. Any targets that threaten the Russian [military] group or our ground infrastructure will be destroyed immediately.” […]