Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

As far as Russian President Vladimir Putin is concerned, the ISIS militants and the Western-backed rebels who helped flush the terror group from Syria represent the same thing: opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, whose violent response to peaceful protests of his regime in 2011 ignited a civil war that has claimed as many as half a million lives and left much of his country in tatters.

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