President Vladimir Putin issues his strongest message yet to Russian troops in Syria, saying any targets threatening his country’s forces must be immediately destroyed.
“I order you to act as tough as possible,” Putin told defense officials in televised remarks on Friday.
He said that “terrorists” in Syria pose a direct threat to Russia, adding that “any targets threatening the Russian grouping or our land infrastructure should be immediately destroyed.”
Putin did not elaborate on specific threats but said “I would like to warn those who would once again try to organize some sort of provocations against our servicemen,” in a veiled reference to Turkey which downed of a Russian fighter jet last month.
He also said that a Russian military base in the country had been reinforced with new air units and defense equipment.
The comments come amid harsh exchanges between Moscow and Ankara after Turkey’s downing of a Russian bomber on the Syrian border on November 24.
Turkey claimed that the Russian Su-24 bomber had violated its airspace for “17 seconds,” an allegation Russia has strongly rejected. One of the two pilots was rescued while the other was killed by militants – some of them associated with Turkey – after parachuting from the plane.
Russia has been carrying out air strikes in the war-ravaged Syria at the request of the Damascus government since the end of September.
Following the incident, Putin called it a “stab in the back” by the “accomplices of terrorists.”
Turkey has refused to apologize for the incident.
Putin’s strident tone came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called earlier Friday for calm in tensions with Russia, but said Turkey’s “patience is not unlimited.”
By Press TV