1. ITV Report

President Putin defends Russia's air strikes in Syria

Mr Putin speaking to Russian state media Photo: 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.

Mr Putin said Russia's task is to Credit: AP

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

We can not take on extra responsibilities and have never taken any. I have said from the very beginning that the active phase of our job in Syria will be limited to times of offensive operations by the Syrian army.

Our task is to stabilise the legal government and create the right conditions for reaching a political compromise.

– Mr Putin

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.

So it became my conviction that if one is afraid, they (extremist groups) will surely do something nasty. One should take preventive measures. Danger does exist, but without active steps danger in Syria will exist anyway.

– Mr Putin