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Russia in talks with US on joint air strikes in Syria — defense minister

May 20, 15:38 UTC+3
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has come forward with a proposal to US defense officials and the US-led coalition to deliver joint air strikes on terrorists in Syria from May 25
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© EPA/US AIR FORCE/MATTHEW BRUCH

MOSCOW, May 20. /TASS/. Russia has begun to coordinate with the United States efforts on delivering joint strikes on terrorists in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Shoigu came forward with a proposal to US defense officials and the US-led coalition to deliver joint air strikes on terrorists in Syria from May 25.

"We’re proposing to the United States as a co-chairman of the International Syria Support Group to start joint operations of the Russian air task force and the US-led aviation from May 25 to plan and deliver strikes against Jabhat al-Nusra groups, illegal armed formations that are rejecting the ceasefire regime, and also against the caravans with weapons and ammunition, armed units illegally crossing the Syrian-Turkish border and in these operations exclude strikes against civilian facilities and populated areas," Shoigu said.

"We think that adoption of these measures will allow to get to the process of a peaceful solution to the conflict within Syria. Certainly, these measures are coordinated with the leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic. Yesterday we began to coordinate these measures with our colleagues in Oman and Geneva," Shoigu said.

Russia reserves right to attack from May 25 militants staying out of ceasefire in Syria

According to the minister, Russia reserves the right to deliver unilateral strikes from May 25 on militants who failed to join the ceasefire in Syria.

"We reserve the right to conduct unilateral strikes from May 25 on detachments of international terrorist organizations and illegal armed units that did not join the regime of cessation of hostilities," Shoigu said.

In late March, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced its intention to unilaterally use force against violators of the ceasefire. Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the main operations department of the Russian General Staff, said at the time that Moscow was prepared to take these measures unless the US gave an answer to its proposals related to control over the regime of cessation of hostilities in Syria.

Nearly 140 armed units in Syria joined cessation of hostilities thanks to US

Nearly 140 armed units in Syria have joined the cessation of hostilities thanks to US efforts, Shoigu added. 

"Similar work [on reconciliation of warring sides in Syria - TASS] is being done by the United States of America," Shoigu said. "Due to its steps, 138 armed units have joined the regime of cessation of hostilities."

Also, thanks to efforts of the Russian center for reconciliation, as of May 20 ceasefire agreements had been concluded with heads of 112 residential localities in Syria, he said.

"Combat operations have been completely halted in those residential localities," he said.

"Despite separate violations, the ceasefire regime is in general observed in most Syrian provinces. Main violations of the regime of cessation of hostilities and periodic deterioration of the situation in north Latakia, Aleppo province, as well as in the suburbs of Damascus, are connected with attempts of Jebhat al-Nusra and military groups that joined it to disrupt peaceful settlement and resume full-scale military actions on the territory of Syria," Shoigu said.

The ceasefire regime took effect in Syria on February 27. Shortly before, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution supporting a cessation of hostilities. The document drafted by Russia and the United States was backed by all 15 Security Council member states. The ceasefire regime does not cover the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations as well as other groups ruled terrorist by the Security Council.

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