"Vladimir Putin has vowed Russia’s military will “immediately destroy” any target threatening them in Syria, in a warning to Turkey, which shot down a Russian warplane at the Syrian border.
Speaking at a meeting with senior commanders in Moscow, Putin said the military should respond with full force to any “further provocations”, adding that additional aircraft and air defence weapons have been sent to the Russian base near Latakia.
“I order you to act in the toughest way,” the Russian president said. “Any targets threatening the Russian groups of forces or our land infrastructure should be immediately destroyed.”
In continuing violence, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a triple suicide truck bombing that killed 50 to 60 Kurds in Tell Tamer in the Hasaka area of northern Syria, while the UN said it was sending its senior relief official, Stephen O’Brien, to Damascus to examine the deteriorating humanitarian situation.
The downing of the Russian bomber by a Turkish fighter jet on 24 November, the first time a Nato member shot down a Russian plane in more than half a century, has badly strained relations between Moscow and Ankara.
Turkey said it downed the plane after it violated its airspace for 17 seconds despite repeated warnings. Russia has insisted the plane remained in Syrian airspace. Putin denounced the Turkish action as a “treacherous stab in the back”.
Putin said Russian military action in Syria was essential to protect Russia from extremists based there, adding that fending off that threat is the main goal of the air campaign he launched on 30 September. The campaign took advantage of western disarray and galvanised efforts to end the four-and-a-half-year war."