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Sep 25, 3:28 PM EDT

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BEIRUT (AP) -- The leader of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah group has welcomed what he described as Russia's growing "combat presence" in Syria, saying it will have a significant impact on the war in the neighboring country.

Moscow has denied that it is building up its presence in Syria to protect its long-time ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, but says instead that it wants to help him fight the Islamic State group.

Hassan Nasrallah says the deployment of Russian warplanes and precision missiles, as well as "resources with operating teams" is a "great development" that will influence the situation on the ground.

Nasrallah spoke on Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV on Friday.

He says Russia has been talking with allies about an expanded alliance against the IS after U.S.-led airstrikes failed to uproot the extremists.

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