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U.S. and Russia Negotiating Closer Military Cooperation vs. Islamic State and Nusra Front

July 1, 2016 (EIRNS)—Washington sources have confirmed some essential features of a report today in the Washington Post by Josh Rogin, claiming that the Obama White House has submitted a proposal to Russia for closer cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State and the Nusra Front in Syria.

According to the sources who spoke to EIR, the White House has approved a proposal and transmitted it to Russian officials, to expand the "deconfliction" agreements to some joint bombing operations against Nusra and ISIS sites. The White House plan, backed strongly by Secretary of State John Kerry, but equally strongly opposed by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, is actually an outgrowth of a long-standing Russian proposal for joint air strikes, which has been a subject of talks between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov for months.

The US proposal is far more modest than the original Russian plan, but does provide for more coordinated targeting of the hardcore terrorist infrastructure. It is conditional on Russia pressuring the Assad government to halt attacks on U.S.-backed rebel groups that are distinct from the hardcore jihadist factions, and on the U.S. pressuring those groups to leave areas of Syria where Nusra is in control or operating. For the agreement to be put into force, if accepted by Putin, it would require greater intelligence sharing and other forms of coordination.

According to one source, the proposed limited upgrading of U.S.-Russian tactical cooperation in Syria is tied to plans by the United Nations Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura to resume diplomatic efforts in the coming days.

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