President Vladimir Putin says Russia is fighting al-Qaida-linked militants in Syria who are using civilians as human shields in the city of Aleppo.

Putin, speaking to French TF1 television, also said in remarks aired Wednesday that Moscow is ready to work with the next U.S. president, but added that "it's easier to work with those who want to work with us."

"If (Donald) Trump says 'I want to work with Russia,' we can only welcome that," he added.

Turning to Aleppo, where Russian warplanes are backing the Syrian army, Putin said, "We can't allow terrorists to use people as human shields and blackmail the entire world."

He criticized the U.S. for failing to combat the al-Qaida offshoot in Syria, which this summer renamed itself Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.