Russia appears to seize the initiative on efforts to end the conflict in Syria, as France sends warplanes to bomb Islamic State targets. Diane Hodges reports.
Russia appears to be seizing the initiative in efforts to end the conflict in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country has been sending military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, because he's both the legal ruler of the country and the one who's fighting terrorist organizations like Islamic State, or ISIL. (SOUNDBITE) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN SAYING: "He is faced with the 'opposition' according to the interpretation of some of our international partners, but in real life, Assad's army is fighting against terrorist organizations." But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in New York that helping Assad militarily is not a constructive strategy to ending the Syria conflict, and urged U.S.-Russia contact on Syria.. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NATO SECRETARY GENERAL JENS STOLTENBERG SAYING: "There is a need at least to de-conflict the presence of Russian military forces in Syria and the presence of coalition forces fighting ISIL." Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande announced that his country has carried out air strikes on against ISIL targets in Syria for the first time. He said the strikes were aimed at stopping attacks on French interests and protecting Syrian civilians. (SOUNDBITE) FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE SAYING: "France struck this morning in Syria against a training camp of the terrorist group Islamic State which was threatening the security of our country." The moves come amid a flurry of diplomacy over Syria's civil war as heads of state gather for the U.N. General Assembly in New York. U.S. President Barack Obama will meet Putin on Monday in New York, where the conflict in Syria is expected to be high on the agenda.