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Donald Trump ‘open to working with Moscow’ to fight Isis in Syria

Announcement comes as Pentagon denies that US and Russian forces coordinated to carry out a strike targeting the jihadis in northern Syria on Monday

Tuesday 24 January 2017 14:19 GMT
Donald Trump ‘open to working with Moscow’ to fight Isis in Syria

Donald Trump’s administration has said the US president is open to cooperation with the Russian military to conduct joint air strikes on Isis in Syria.

“The president has been very clear that he’s going to work with any country that shares our interest in defeating Isis,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday, in his first daily press briefing.

“I think that if there’s a way that we can combat Isis with any country, whether it’s Russia or anyone else, and we have a shared national interest in that, sure, we’ll take it.”

The president has said that he would defeat Isis “quickly” after taking office, in the past referencing a “top secret plan”.

However, on Monday it also emerged that Mr Trump’s administration had asked the US military’s chiefs of staff to draw up new strategies for defeating the group.

The announcement comes the same day that the Russian Defence Ministry said that a coordinated strike against Isis targets near al-Bab in northern Syria had already taken place, which would mark the first such joint action.

Two Russian warplanes and two aircraft from the US-led coalition destroyed several ammunition and fuel depots and killed an unknown number of militants, Moscow said, claims the Pentagon denied.

Mr Spicer also said that the Russian statement was “rubbish.”

US Air Force Colonel John Dorrian, a coalition spokesman, almost immediately labelled the Russian claim as propaganda.

While former President Barack Obama’s administration said last September that joint US-Russian military action against Isis could be on the table if a ceasefire held, Washington suspended Syria talks with Moscow when the truce down over an aid convoy bombing near Aleppo.

The Kremlin has expressed hope that Donald Trump’s presidency will bring fresh enthusiasm for international cooperation on ending the almost six-year-long war, which the UN says has claimed 400,000 lives.

Turkey, which alongside the US to date has supported a broad spectrum of rebel groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, has indicated that the removal of Mr Assad from office is no longer a dealbreaker for Ankara.

Asked on Monday whether President Trump would be open to working with Mr Assad to fight Isis - as per comments made on the campaign trail - Mr Spicer said “let’s not take that too far.”

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