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Putin: Assad, Syrian Military 'Valiantly Fighting Terrorism'

  • VOA News

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses participants of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 28, 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses participants of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 28, 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the United Nations General Assembly Monday that the armed forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are "valiantly fighting terrorism face to face" and that refusing to cooperate with them is "a huge mistake."

He also called for the creation of a "broad international anti-terrorist coalition," which he compared to the "anti-Hitler coalition" of World War II.

"We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad's armed forces and [Kurdish] militia are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria," Putin said.

U.S. President Barack Obama, in his address to the Assembly earlier Monday, denounced President Assad as someone "who drops barrel bombs on his people," calling for a transition away from his rule.

Putin also criticized the West for arming "moderate" rebels in Syria who, he said, joined forces with the Islamic State group. The Islamic State group itself, he said, arose not "out of nowhere," but was "initially forged as a tool against undesirable secular regimes."

More broadly, the Russian leader criticized the foreign policy of the United States and its Western allies, including what he called the "export of "so-called 'democratic'" revolutions to the Middle East and North Africa. Putin specifically cited the examples of Iraq and Libya.

"Rather than bringing about reforms, an aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a flagrant destruction of national institutions and the very way of life. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and a social disaster," he said.

Putin criticized the expansion of the NATO alliance after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, stating that what he called "this logic of confrontation" ultimately led to a "grave geopolitical crisis" in Ukraine. Referring to last year's ouster of Ukraine's pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych, Putin said popular discontent "was used," and that "an armed coup" was "orchestrated from the outside," triggering a "civil war."

In a U.S. television interview broadcast Sunday on the CBS News program 60 Minutes, Putin said, "Our partners in the United States have supported those who ousted Yanukovych."

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