“Why play with words dividing terrorists into moderate and not moderate. What’s the difference?” Putin told the forum.
A whole “snarl” of terrorist groups act in the region, who fight also against each other for “sources of income” and not for ideology, Putin said, adding that the weapons provided to “moderate” opposition in the region had ended up in the hands of terrorists.
Some countries are playing a double game, the Russian president said, adding that while they fight against terrorism they also “place figures on the board” in their own interests.
“Success in fighting terrorists cannot be reached if using some of them as a battering ram to overthrow disliked regimes,” Putin told the forum, saying that this way the terrorists would not go anywhere. “It’s just an illusion that they can be dealt with [later], removed from power and somehow negotiated with,” he added.
Saying that the efforts of the Russian military in Syria will positively affect the situation in the country, helping to provide conditions for political settlement, the Russian president also stressed that defeating terrorists will not solve all the problems in Syria.
“I’d like to stress once again that [Russia’s operation in Syria] is completely legitimate, and its only aim is to aid in establishing peace,” the Russian president said in Sochi, adding that the decision to deploy the Air Force was made following a request from the Syrian government.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has also agreed with the possibility of Russia offering support to the Syrian opposition in their fight against ISIS, Putin said. “I’ve asked [Assad]: What would you say if we support the opposition’s efforts in their fight against terrorists the way we support the Syrian Army? And he said: My attitude is positive,” the Russian leader told the Valdai forum
Moscow has been seeking to exchange data about the positions of Islamic State militants in Syria with western countries for weeks, and now such cooperation is close, Putin said.
Countries should perceive one another as “allies in a common fight, and act honestly and openly,” Putin said, adding that only in this way can victory against terror be guaranteed. “Syria… can become a model for partners… of how to solve problems that affect everyone.”