MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin says Russia's air campaign in Syria has proven the military's increased combat readiness and capability.
Putin said at a meeting with defense officials that "the counter-terrorism operation we are conducting on the Syrian leadership's request has proven that."
Russia has deployed several dozen jets at an air base in the Syrian coastal province of Latakia, which have flown more than 1,600 combat missions since Sept. 30.
Moscow has said that its aircraft has targeted the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations, but Washington and its NATO allies have criticized Russia for targeting moderate rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Putin said Monday that Russia's military modernization program has been successfully implemented, with defense plants churning out new jets, missiles, navy ships and other weapons.