Putin, who has thrown Russia's support behind Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with air strikes, also said in an interview  that the crisis in relations between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran would complicate the search for peace in Syria.

Putin, obliquely referring to diplomatic pressure from the United States and France to concentrate Moscow's firepower on Islamic State militants, said Russian military aid was going to help parts of the Syrian opposition in the fight against IS as well as to help Assad.

Putin made similar comments last year, but Russian officials subsequently denied that Moscow provided military aid to the Syrian opposition groups that Putin had mentioned.

Putin further said the row between Saudi Arabia and Iran over Riyadh's execution of a Shi'ite Muslim cleric on Jan. 2 would complicate attempts to reach a solution to the Syrian conflict.

Read more: Syria, Russia must end operations against Syrian civilians: France

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