Russia fighter jets now seen at Syrian airfield

The Pentagon past year cut off high-level military talks with Moscow after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in Ukraine.


The United States opened the door on Thursday to possible tactical discussions with Russian Federation about the war in Syria, as Moscow’s deepening military presence raised the prospect of some limited coordination between the former Cold War foes.

“The necessity to coordinate bilateral and multilateral efforts to combat worldwide terrorism was at the center of attention”, he said.

In the interview, he did not mention Russia’s buildup in Syria but called Moscow an “impartial” player in the conflict.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “The course of the conversation has shown that the sides’ opinions on the majority of issues under consideration are close or coincide”.

One question on his mind, Kerry told reporters, is whether the Russians intend just to help battle Islamic State terrorists – or mean to help keep Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in power.

Defeating the Islamic State and ensuring a political transition should be pursued at the same time, Carter said.

In figures sharply revised upwards from previous estimates, a top Russian security service official said on Friday that there were 2,400 Russians now fighting for Isil as well as 3,000 from neighbouring Central Asian countries.

Syrian President Bashir-al-Assad spoke to Russian media outlets, blaming the refugee crisis on the United States and its Western allies.

The U.S. has tried to apply diplomatic pressure for a negotiated departure of Assad since the civil war began in 2011, but the elements of the opposition acceptable to the West have been weakened by the advance of jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) and the al-Nusra Front, which are also fighting against Damascus.

The United States has already ploughed 4.1 billion dollars (£3.6bn) into support for Syrian refugees, he said.

He said it was important to forge a political agreement in Syria and end the hardship of Syrian people.

Earnest said the administration’s stance on Russia’s moves in Syria remains the same as it was last week when Obama told U.S. troops that a strategy to prop up Assad is “doomed to failure”.


The strikes could not be confirmed, but the US embassy in Syria on its Twitter account that “The Assad regime’s brutal attacks on #Syria’s cities continue to kill innocent Syrians and destroy schools, mosques, markets, and hospitals”.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the U.S. would engage in direct talk with Russia over Syria.                    Nicholas Kamm  Getty Images