Putin defends Syrian forces over siege of Aleppo
President Vladimir Putin has defended Russia's support for the Syrian army's siege of the rebel-held eastern districts of the city of Aleppo, saying it is necessary to crush the militants there.
President Putin spoke to international foreign policy experts in Sochi, saing there is choice between "keeping a terrorist nest there or crushing that nest while minimising civilian casualties".
Russia's air campaign in support of the Syrian troops' offensive on Aleppo has drawn international outrage.
Moscow has denied striking civilians and has blamed Washington for failing to persuade the US-backed rebels in the city to cut their ties with fighters from al-Qaeda's branch.
President Putin shrugged off the calls to end the onslaught on Aleppo, arguing that the US-backed, Iraqi-led siege of Mosul should also be halted then, and the prospective attack on Raqqa by the US-led coalition should not be launched at all.