Russia: Russia sends dozens of fighter jets and helicopter gunships to Syria amid growing signs that Western leaders may support plan to allow Bashar al-Assad to remain in power in the country. Russia is preparing to attack Isil in Syria and amid growing signs that Western leaders may support Russian plan to allow Bashar al-Assad in the country. Russia has sent dozens of fighter jets and helicopter gunships to Syria as he steps up his support for Assad, the country’s president, in the fight against Isil jihadists.
Mr Putin is understood to have told America that he is prepared to authorise unilateral Russian air strikes on Isil targets if the US does not back his plans to take on the jihadists while allowing Assad to remain in power.
There have been growing signs that Western leaders are now softening their opposition to Assad remaining in power. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, said on Thursday: “We have to speak with many actors. This includes Assad, but others as well.
Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, and John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, have suggested that Assad must step down but that there could be a transitional period during which he remains in power.
However, there was also concern amongst European leaders about Russia’s decision to increase its military presence in Syria. Mr Putin has drafted a request for the Russian upper house of parliament to approve the deployment of 2,000 air personnel to Syria, but has yet to formally submit it, according to Bloomberg, citing anonymous sources. But Mr Putin’s spokesman denied the claim.
Michael Fallon, Britain’s Defence Secretary, said that the “Russian build-up in Syria only complicates an already complicated and difficult situation”. Russia’s increasing involvement in Syria is likely to dominate next week’s session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where Mr Putin is scheduled to meet Barack Obama on Monday.
Russia has called on Western and Middle Eastern countries to form a broad anti-Isil coalition including Mr Assad’s government, arguing that Syrian government forces are the only ones capable of combating terrorists on the battlefield.