Moscow proposes joint Syria airstrikes with US from next week

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MOSCOW: Moscow on Friday proposed that Russia and United States, which have been flying separate bombing campaigns in Syria, launch joint air strikes against jihadists in the war-torn country from next week.

“We are proposing to the US, as the head of the International Syria Support Group, to take part as of May 25 in joint operations between the Russian air force and the air force of the coalition,” Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu said in televised comments.

Shoigu said that the proposal included strikes against Jabhat al-Nusra and other illegal armed groups that do not support a frail truce brokered by Moscow and Washington in February.

He also proposed that joint strikes be made against “convoys containing weapons and ammunition, armed units that illegally cross the Syrian-Turkish border.”


Russia and the United States pledged earlier this month to redouble efforts to find a solution to the Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 270,000 people and displaced millions since 2011, and extend a truce across the war-torn country.

Despite diplomatic efforts to resolve the five-year conflict, Moscow and Washington have been critical of each other’s bombing campaigns in Syria.

The West has accused Moscow — a staunch supporter of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad — of propping up the regime by targeting rebels fighting Assad in strikes it said were aimed against “terrorist” organizations.

Moscow has in turn repeatedly slammed the US coalition, saying its strikes in Syria have been ineffective.

Shoigu said on Friday that Russia would reserve its right to unilaterally strike “international terrorist and illegal armed groups that have not adhered to the cessation of hostilities” starting from May 25.

President Vladimir Putin in March announced a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria, saying Moscow’s task had been “on the whole” completed. AFP

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