Washington | Russia has agreed to resume talks with the US to ensure safety of aircrafts during their separate bombing campaign in Syria against the Islamic State, the Pentagon said. The Department of Defense has received a formal response from the Russian Ministry of Defense regarding the US proposal to ensure safe air operations over Syria, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said.
Department leaders are reviewing the Russian response, and talks could take place as soon as this weekend, Cook said. According to Pentagon officials the two countries had conducted talks on air safety via video conference on October 1.
After that the US did not hear anything from Russia. Earlier in the day, the US alleged that Russia is targeting moderate opposition groups in Syria. The vast majority of the strikes we have seen them conduct to date continue to be against opposition groups and not against ISIL, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby told reporters during his news conference.
What I can tell you that what we have seen so far in terms of Russian military activity and the strikes they’re taking, that they are predominantly against opposition groups, he said. Secretary of State, John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov spoke on Thursday for about half an hour. Kirby said America’s message to Russia over Syria has not changed.
It wants Russia to remain focused on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). What our message to Russia is that we would welcome contributions by the Russian military if those contributions were against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
If they have the same focus on ISIL, then that’s a conversation that we would be willing to have, Kirby said. Because through going after opposition groups they are doing nothing but prolonging Assad in power, which makes it difficult to get to any kind of political solution, and they’re perhaps inviting more extremists into Syria, he said.
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