In an interview today with the Associated Press, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend downplayed the chances of a joint US-Russia military operation in Syria, saying he is “fairly skeptical of the Russians” and doesn’t believe that it’s even possible to cooperate with them.
Townsend went on to say that while the decision to cooperate would be up to the Obama Administration and not the Pentagon, he was confident that the military could finish their mission of wiping out ISIS inside Syria without Russian help.
The general’s comments mirror those of a lot of other Pentagon officials, who appear to overwhelmingly oppose any deal to cooperate with Russia. The negotiations, which Secretary of State John Kerry was spear-heading, planned joint operations against al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
But Nusra’s rebranding, as an ideologically identical faction that isn’t technically an al-Qaeda affiliate, seems to have been sufficient that a lot of the concern about them is fading in the US, and as Nusra gains territory around Aleppo, most administration officials are focusing on condemning Russia for resisting Nusra’s advances.