President Putin defends Russia's air strikes in Syria

Mr Putin speaking to Russian state media Credit: AP

President Putin has defended Russia's intervention in Syria, saying the aim is to "stabilise the legitimate authority" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In an interview with Russian state media, Mr Putin said that Moscow's intervention in the Syrian conflict is to stabilise the Syrian government and help create conditions for a political settlement.

Putin also said that fighting militant groups abroad prevents them from launching attacks in Russia.

His comments come as Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes advanced against insurgents in the centre of the country on Sunday.

Critics of Russia's intervention, which began on 30 September, have argued that strengthening the government will only make compromise more difficult.

On Sunday, the main Western-backed opposition group said Russia's strikes would undermine any efforts to reach a settlement.