At a meeting in London with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, Kerry said the USA president hoped that talks would “help define some of the different options available to us as we consider next steps in Syria”.
According to a Pentagon statement to the Journal, Shoygu said the movement of aircraft is “defensive in nature” and a fulfillment to “commitments made to the Syrian government“.
Assad said Turkish support had been crucial to the growth of two of the biggest insurgent groups in Syria, ISIS and the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, and that aerial bombing by a US-led coalition has failed to stop ISIS.
Russia’s foreign ministry offered to hold such talks earlier this week and denied not wanting to discuss their military presence in Syria in the past.
“The secretary and the minister talked about areas where the United States and Russia’s perspectives overlap and areas of divergence”, said Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook.
Kerry had previously warned the Kremlin over its alleged military build-up on behalf of Assad, who the United States opposes, saying the move “could further escalate the conflict”, and runs the risk of direct confrontation with USA drones and fighter jets purportedly striking ISIL positions in northern Syria.
Washington believes that Assad’s presence is fueling the conflict, but Russian Federation continues to support its long-time ally.
High-level military talks with Moscow were severed by the Pentagon in 2014 over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine.
An intelligence official called the Russian buildup in Syria “significant” and said it would represent “the first major expeditionary force deployment” outside the former Soviet space that Moscow has undertaken since the war in Afghanistan.
The AP says: “Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj”.
The fighter jets marked the latest escalation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s effort to strengthen Assad, USA officials said. The discussions also amount to a tacit acceptance of the Russian buildup, after weeks of warnings from Washington against any Russian escalation in Syria.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said more than 20 Condor transport plane flights had delivered weapons and equipment to the air base in the past 10 days. “We’re looking for ways in which to find a common ground”.
“He noted that defeating (Islamic State militants) and ensuring a political transition are objectives that need to be pursued at the same time”, he said.
The government, which by Assad’s own admission faces a military manpower problem, is seeking to shore up control over the cities of the west after losing much of the rest of Syria to an array of insurgents including Islamic State. “We are open to it now on all matters of mutual interest, including Syria”.