VLADIMIR Putin has stepped up Russia’s military presence in Syria and told the west it must back its leader Bashar al-Assad in order to tackle the growing threat of Islamic State (ISIS).
The superpower has brought in 28 fighter aircraft and thousands of soldiers to the war-torn Middle East country to support the Assad regime.
That puts Russia in direct opposition to a US-led coalition which has brought military action against the Syrian government.
The US has accused Syria of a series of atrocities against its own people.
But Putin said backing Assad was the only way to defeat the terrorism rapidly growing in the area.
In a televised interview Putin said action against Assad’s government would “create a situation” seen in countries such as Libya “where all the state institutions are disintegrated”.
He added: “There is no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism.”