Vladimir Putin: Russia will join coalition air strikes against Isil if it is approved by Assad

Russia may join coalition airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), but repeated his assertion that Russian troops will not take part in ground operations in the Middle East, Vladimir Putin said after his first meeting with Barack Obama in two years on Monday night.

Speaking to Russian reporters following the nearly two-hour meeting, which went on nearly twice as long as expected, Mr Putin said that the Russian airforce could take part in an air campaign provided it was authorised by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and a United Nations resolution.

“As far as Russian involvement is concerned, we’re thinking about what else we could do to support those who are in the field really confronting and fighting terrorists including Isil. In Syria that is mostly only the Syrian army and Kurdish militia groups,” Mr Putin said.