Sputnik News – 2015-09-21 23:54:19
US Vows to Support Russia’s Anti-ISIL Effort in Syria — German Media
WASHINGTON, DC (September 20, 2015) — Washington has signaled its readiness to cooperate with Russia in the intelligence sphere in order to fight the Islamic State militant group in Syria, according to the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
The United States has announced plans to develop intelligence cooperation with Russia in a bid to destroy the so-called Islamic State (ISIL), the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported, citing sources in the US secret services.
According to the newspaper, representatives of the US Central Intelligence Agency and Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service held a meeting in Moscow last week to discuss cooperation between the two countries on Syria.
Bild am Sonntag reported that Washington plans to render intelligence assistance to Moscow so as to support Russia’s activity against ISIL militants in Syria.
The newspaper attributed Washington’s move to the Islamic State’s ever-increasing clout and the growing flow of refugees to Europe.
During a telephone conversation on Friday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his US counterpart Ashton Carter agreed to continue to discuss the situation in Syria in the future.
Earlier that day, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that President Barack Obama sees the talks between the two countries’ military as an important step.
According to him, Washington is seeking areas of common interest with Russia on the possibility of bilateral military cooperation in Syria.
Syria has been in a state of a civil war since 2011. Government forces have been fighting against opposition factions and numerous insurgent militant groups, including ISIL and the al-Nursa Front.
According to UN figures, more than 220,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began, with the number of Syrian refugees abroad exceeding 4 million people.
US-Russian Anti-ISIL Military
Cooperation Hinges on Assad Fate
WASHINGTON, DC (September 19, 2015) — Partnering with Russia offers the United States an opportunity to defeat ISIL in Syria, but any military cooperation could be completely undermined by the disagreement over Syrian President Bashar Assad’s political fate, experts told Sputnik.
US officials have stated they are considering a Russian proposal to collaborate on a military solution in Syria to counter ISIL. The United States, however, has continued to demand that Assad cannot be part of any political settlement in Syria.
Russia offers the United States an opportunity to expand military operations, short of visible ground forces, to destroy their common enemy, Johns Hopkins University Professor and military historian Michael Vlahos told Sputnik on Friday.
“If there is a de facto coalition brewing to knock out ISIS [Islamic State], Russian forces operating in ‘Levantine Syria’ could open the way for the United States to feel free in at least inserting SOCOM [US Special Operations Command] units into Syria for targeted operations,” Vlahos said.
If Russia’s proposal for military cooperation with US forces actually works, Washington can achieve its goal of defeating ISIL and Moscow “can boast that they recreated [the] World War II grand alliance,” Vlahos argued.
Vlahos posited that Russia could also benefit from this cooperation by getting America’s genuine “buy-in” regarding Donetsk and Lugansk autonomy in Ukraine.
The expert also noted that the anti-Islamic State military solution hinges on whether the United States and Russia can overcome their differences, including the fate of Assad, among other issues.
“A lot depends on whether [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and [US President Barack] Obama can ‘bury the hatchet’ at the [UN] General Assembly next week,” Vlahos suggested.
Woodrow Wilson Center scholar Michael Kofman told Sputnik that US-Russian military cooperation is not even a “functioning premise” largely because of disputes over what the end game looks like in Syria.
“Russia and the United States cannot cooperate because they and their allies have a basic disagreement on the end-state,” Kofman argued. “The United States does not want to discuss the settlement unless Assad agrees that he will step down.”
Kofman suggested that Russia’s military buildup could complicate US efforts to implement a no-fly zone in northern Syria.
On Friday, Russia Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russia supports the state of Syria, not Assad.
Last week, President Putin confirmed that Moscow was providing considerable support to Syria in equipment, weapons and training to fight ISIL and other terrorist groups.
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