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Mission accomplished in Syria: Russian president

A Syrian national flag flutters as the ruins of the historic city of Palmyra are seen in the background, in Homs Province, Syria, on April 1, 2016. The city was liberated by the Syrian army backed by Russia’s air cover. ©Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised the achievements of Moscow's military campaign in Syria, saying the operation has “accomplished” its mission in the violence-wracked Middle Eastern country.

"It is too early to say we have reached a crucial breakthrough, but it is evident that we have accomplished our mission," Putin told a media forum in St. Petersburg on Thursday.

Russia’s operation had reinforced Syria’s statehood and its legitimate government, he stated, emphasizing that it was essential to prevent the collapse of Syrian state in a bid to stem the flow of refugees to Europe.

The Syrian army was liberating new settlements from "terrorists" with Moscow's support, the Russian leader added.

The Syrian forces have continued to make advances against the Takfiri Daesh terror group, although Russia pulled out some of its warplanes from the Arab country last month, he noted.

Russia launched its air campaign against Daesh and other terrorist groups last September upon a request by the Damascus government. Later in mid-March, the bulk of Russian military forces were withdrawn from Syria. 

A Russian Su-25 aircraft lands at an airbase in the Krasnodar Krai region, Russia, on March 16, 2016, as part of the withdrawal of Russian armed forces from Syria. ©AFP

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Russian president stressed that Moscow’s role in fighting terrorism can never be dismissed.

"No matter how someone might want to belittle the role and significance of our steps against terror and hush up these events, this is simply impossible," Putin stated.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. According to a February report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.

Backed by the Russian air cover, Syrian forces have managed to retake many militant-held areas over the past few months.

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