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Putin moves forward against Islamic State in Syria

By Ryan Maass
Russian President Vladimir Putin strengthens his assets in Syria, lending more support to the Assad regime. File photo by Luo Xiaoguang/Pool/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/b6650fb4f585925e873660c4298c639d/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Russian President Vladimir Putin strengthens his assets in Syria, lending more support to the Assad regime. File photo by Luo Xiaoguang/Pool/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly preparing to launch unilateral airstrikes on the Islamic State as his country strengthens its air base in Syria.

Bloomberg reports Putin is preparing to launch unilateral airstrikes in Syria, citing unnamed sources.

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Russian military activity has come under fire as Moscow officials pledged material and political support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which is battling both the dissenting Free Syrian Army and the Islamic State, also identified as Daesh and by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.

While U.S. security officials have been calling for more countries to commit to the destruction of the Sunni militants since they began deploying airstrikes of their own in Iraq and Syria, they remain critical of Russian support for the Assad regime.

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"We certainly are aware that Russia continues to ship a variety of materials and weapons to Syria, and we've made quite clear that it would be destabilizing and unproductive for Russia to continue to use that military firepower to back Assad," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest in a briefing on Tuesday.

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While the U.S. and Russia both share a common enemy in IS, Bloomberg reports Putin prefers the U.S. and its allies agree to coordinate with Russia, Iran, and the Syrian regime. Obama Administration officials have resisted Putin's plan, with Earnest saying that supporting Assad's regime is a "losing bet."

"Russia's precise intentions inside of Syria are not clear," Earnest added, "but we continue to be interested in Russia sending a signal about their willingness to constructively support the international coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. They say that that is a goal that they share, and we would welcome the kinds of actions that reflect that rhetoric."

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Putin met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Moscow to discuss the matter earlier this week.

The New York Times reported President Obama expressed desire to meet with President Putin sometime next week on Tuesday, however no formal arrangements have been made.

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