Putin: No plans to put combat troops in Syria “right now”

Russian President Vladimir Putin told CBS in New York Sunday "Russia will not participate in any troop operations in the territory of Syria or in any other states. Well, at least we don't plan on it right now," he said, adding:. "But we are considering intensifying our work with both President Assad and with our partners in other countries."

DEBKAfile reports: Just Saturday, the Russian landing ship Saratov with 300 marines aboard crossed into the Mediterranean on its way to Syria, with hundreds more troops waiting at Black Sea ports for transportation to the embattled country. Speaking just before meeting President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN Assembly, Putin defended Russia's military buildup in Syria and support for Assad. He described the Syrian government army as the only legitimate one in Syria and criticized US military support for "illegal structures" as running “counter to international law and the UN charter." Putin mocked the US training program, noting that of the 5,000 Syrian rebels trained, “only four or five fighters were left after about 50 others were captured, wounded or fled.”

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