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Putin defends Russia's military assistance to Syrian regime

Russian President Vladimir Putin says it is impossible to defeat the Islamic State group without cooperating with the Syrian government.

Speaking at a meeting of a Moscow-dominated security alliance of ex-Soviet nations in Tajikistan, Mr Putin said that Moscow has provided military assistance to President Bashar Assad's government and will continue to do so.

He shrugged off allegations that Moscow's support for President Assad has sparked a flow of refugees, saying in a televised statement that without Russia's support for Assad's regime the number of Syrian refugees heading to Europe would have been even bigger.

The United States says that Russia is in the midst of a steady military build-up at a Syrian airport, indicating Moscow intends to create an air operations base there, although no fighter jets or helicopters have arrived yet.

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