Russia proposes joint airstrikes with United States in Syria

Russia-proposes-joint-airstrikes-with-United-States-in-Syria.  MOSCOW,  Russia proposed conducting joint air strikes with the U.S.-led coalition in Syria against al-Qaida-linked groups and other extremists.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow on February 23, 2006. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov) | License Photo

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said strikes could begin Wednesday to take out the al-Nusra Front, which took control of the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib in late March 2015.

“Taking such a step would help the progress of the peace settlement in Syria. Of course, such measures have been agreed with the Syrian Arab Republic,” Shoigu said. “We suggest to the U.S. starting on May 25, joint action of the Russian Air Forces and the U.S.-led coalition forces to plan and conduct strikes against the al-Nusra Front, which does not support the cease-fire, as well as against convoys of arms and fighters crossing the Syrian-Turkish border.”

There was no immediate reaction from Washington, whose airstrikes have concentrated on the Islamic State in Syria. Russia’s alliance with Syrian PresidentBashar al-Assad has strained relations with the United States and its allies, who have insisted that the removal of Assad is a key component to ending the Syrian conflict. Russia has long backed Assad’s regime.

A shaky Russia-U.S.-brokered cease-fire, which began in late February, is barely holding together and is not being honored by groups that include al-Nusra Front and the IS, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.

By Amy R. Connolly