Moscow: The Russian parliament Wednesday granted President Vladi­mir V. Putin authorization to use military force in Syria, where Putin deployed warplanes and battle tanks earlier this month and has called for an international coalition to battle the Islamic State.

At a closed-door session of the Federation Council, Russia’s highest body of parliament, senators voted unanimously to pass the resolution, Russian state news agencies reported.

The Russian move will likely complicate Western policy toward both the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad and Islamic State militants operating in Syria.

The Kremlin said in a brief statement Wednesday morning that Putin had requested the right to use force in Syria “on the basis of universal principles and norms of international law.”

Sergei Ivanov, the Kremlin’s Chief of Staff, told the Interfax News Agency that the parliament had only approved the use of Russian aviation. He said the vote did not signify that Russian ground forces would be deployed in the conflict.

Ivanov said the “Syrian president asked the leadership of our country for military assistance.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after the vote that Russia’s main military goal in Syria was to combat terrorism and support goverment forces.

“The main objective is the fight against terrorism and supporting the legitimate authorities in Syria in the fight against terrorism and extremism,” Peskov said, according to the Reuters news agency, when asked whether Russia could guarantee that it would confine any air strikes to Islamic State militants.

He declined to say whether Russia has already started air strikes in Syria, Reuters reported.

Putin, asked at the United Nations in New York on Monday whether he would consider using airstrikes in Syria, said “we do not rule out anything, but if we act, we will do it in strict compliance with the international law.”

Russia has been building up its military presence in Syria. Moscow supports Bashar al-Assad in a two-pronged conflict against both Islamic State militants and Western-backed rebels who have been waging a four-year civil war.

The resolution appeared unexpectedly on the Federation Council’s agenda on Wednesday, where it was announced by speaker Valentina Matvienko at the beginning of the morning session, Russian state news agencies reported.

Putin’s government has a number of other military and diplomatic goals in Syria, including backing the government and emerging from international isolation following the Ukraine crisis.

The last time the Federation Council held a similar vote was in March 2014, when the legislative body voted unanimously to grant Putin the right to use military force in Ukraine.

At that time, Russian troops without identifying marks had appeared in Crimea (the peninsula was annexed by Russia several weeks later). Russia has never admitted sending its military into Ukraine, although Ukraine and the West have accused it of intervening on behalf of separatists in the country’s southeast.

The Federation Council repealed authorization to use the armed forces in Ukraine in June 2014 at Putin’s request.

“For Russian forces to operate there legitimately ... a law was needed,” military expert Ivan Konovalov told the Reuters news agency, referring to a technical requirement under Russian law.

Courtesy Washington Post