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Putin: Our partners have 'mush for brains'

Wednesday 14 Oct 2015 6:16 a.m.

Vladimir Putin (Reuters)

Vladimir Putin (Reuters)

By Layal Abou Rahal

Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate has called for jihadists to attack Russia over its air strikes in Syria, as rockets hit Moscow's Damascus embassy where demonstrators had gathered to back the intervention.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday slammed Washington for refusing to cooperate on Syria, saying "some of our partners simply have mush for brains".

"How is it possible to work together?" he asked in Moscow, adding that the United States declined to share intelligence on Syria.

Washington and its allies say Moscow is also targeting Western-backed moderate rebels and seeking to prop up President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Abu Mohamed al-Jolani, head of Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, urged jihadists in the Caucasus to target Russians because of Moscow's air campaign.

"If the Russian army kills the people of Syria, then kill their people. And if they kill our soldiers, then kill their soldiers. An eye for an eye," Jolani said in an audio recording released late on Monday.

He pledged that Moscow's air war, which began on September 30, would have dire consequences.

"The war in Syria will make the Russians forget the horrors that they found in Afghanistan," Jolani said, adding: "They will be shattered, with God's permission, on Syria's doorstep."

Russia has said its raids are targeting al-Nusra's jihadist rival the Islamic State group and other movements, and the defence ministry said it had hit 86 "terrorist" targets in Syria since Monday.

"In the last 24 hours, Su-34, Su-24M and Su-25SM planes carried out 88 sorties against 86 terrorist infrastructure targets in the provinces of Raqa, Hama, Idlib, Latakia and Aleppo," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian news agencies.

Tuesday's developments came a day after US-led coalition forces air-dropped ammunition to the Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) battling jihadists near the Islamic State group's northern stronghold of Raqa.

Putin took issue with the arms drop, saying the weapons could end up in the wrong hands.

The US-led air coalition fighting IS in Syria has also targeted al-Nusra several times.

Jolani urged armed opposition groups to shelve their differences until both air campaigns had been defeated.

"Delay the disputes until the demise and smashing of the Western Crusader and Russian campaign on Syrian land," he said.

He also called on armed groups to "hurl hundreds of rockets" daily at villages of Assad's Alawite minority sect.

Jolani said he would pay three million euros for anyone who can kill Bashar al-Assad and end his story," and two million euros for Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah movement and a key Assad ally.

Tuesday's rocket attack on the Russian embassy in Damascus sparked panic among some 300 demonstrators waving Russian flags and pictures of Putin, though no one was injured.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rockets were fired from the eastern edges of the capital, where Islamist rebels are entrenched.


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