President Vladimir Putin has defended Russia’s military interventions in Syria, saying it would aid efforts to reach a political settlement and stabilise the “legitimate authority” of Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad.
Putin denied that Russian air strikes were hitting moderate opposition groups rather than Islamic State (IS) militants.
Syrian forces have made significant advances against rebels.
Government gains in Idlib, Hama and Latakia provinces were also reported both by Damascus and opposition activists.
The main battlefront is currently close to the key highway that links the capital with other major cities, including Aleppo, and Mr Assad’s forces are believed to be seeking to cut off rebels in Idlib.
Putin believes that without Moscow’s support for President Assad, there was a danger that “terrorist groups” could overrun Syria.