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article imageU.S. and Russia increasing cooperation on Syria

By Ken Hanly     Jul 16, 2016 in Politics
Moscow - John Kerry U.S. Secretary of State said on July 15 that Russia and the U.S. had agreed to cooperate in Syria against the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.
Kerry said the cooperation was intended to "restore the cessation of hostilities, significantly reduce the violence and help create the space for a genuine and credible political transition." Kerry appeared alongside his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. Kerry did not give any details as to what exactly had been agreed upon.
. The decision to have greater military cooperation with Russia is causing divisions within the US government, with the Pentagon challenging the view that Russia could be trusted to fulfill its part of any agreement. Kerry's statement appeared to reflect awareness of this skepticism as he said: "I want to emphasize, though, they are not based on trust. They define specific, sequential responsibilities all parties to the conflict must assume with the intent of stopping all together the indiscriminate bombing of the Assad regime and stepping up our efforts against al Nusra."
CNN has obtained a draft of the proposed agreement which would allow targeting and carrying out joint airstrikes against both the Islamic State and also the Nusra Front. CNN claims that the agreement does not necessarily apply to attacks on ISIS, as each country would reserve the right to attack the Islamic State independently. As part of the agreement the Assad air force would be largely grounded except in certain circumstances.
Pentagon Press Secretary, Peter Cook, told reporters: "The secretary of defense has been clear that he has been skeptical of Russia's activities in Syria and we have reason for that. There's plenty of reasons for that skepticism, And I think he maintains that skepticism." The Defense Department would like to see guarantees that Russia will keep its end of the bargain.
As reported in Sputniknews, an article in the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, claims the new agreement could involve a reset in relations between Russia and the US, and an "arms brotherhood" in the battle against terrorism. The article claims: "The fact that President Barack Obama gradually gives up his original goal — the overthrow of Assad, and gives priority to the fight against Islamic State has become noticeable long ago. The planned new partnership with Moscow would consolidate this course" Moscow has long been seeking such military cooperation with the US in Syria. The new development has resulted in Russian media replacing criticism of Obma by describing him as a new partner of Russia in Syria. In early July, Russian president Putin said that Western states were partners in the fight against terrorism, and that Russia wanted to work closely with the US on international issues. Kerry visited Moscow on July 14 and 15 with the US offer of cooperation. The meeting also discussed the sharing of intelligence data on terrorism. Detailed discussion of the offer can be found in an article in the Washington Post.
More about Al Nusra front, Syrian civil war, US Russia relations
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