Kerry Meets With Top Russian Officials to Discuss Syria Coordination

Sides Agree on Series of Steps, But Decline to Offer Details

by Jason Ditz, July 15, 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry was in Moscow today for several hours of discussions with top Russian officials over the possibility of coordinating airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. Kerry reported that they agreed on a “series of steps” that would lead to such coordination.

Kerry refused to discuss what those steps were, saying those would be “spoilers,” and then adding “our patience is not limitless,” a weird comment to come at the wake of what was apparently the US seeking cooperation with Russia after spurning previous Russian offers for months.

The sudden change of heart centers on the US being concerned about al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, after months of haranguing Russia for bombing them, and deciding that maybe they could also coordinate against them. Several US-backed rebel groups are openly allied with Nusra, and have complained attacks on Nusra are also killing them.

Despite his talk about patience wearing thing, Kerry is said to be among the top US officials in favor of coordination with Russia, while much of the intelligence community and the Pentagon leadership are said to oppose the idea.

Russia has been pushing for better coordination with the US on their respective Syria wars since they got involved in the country, arguing that the US refusal to provide information on who the US-backed rebel groups are and where they’re located is a big reason why those groups sometimes end up hit in Russian airstrikes targeting Islamist factions.

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