U.S., Russia discuss cooperation against Islamic State in Syria

WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke by phone Saturday to discuss potentially working together against the Islamic State in Syria.

State-sponsored TASS news agency reported the phone call, initiated by Kerry, came after the Americans floated a proposal to the Russians to work in conjunction against the Islamic State while halting bombing against U.S.-backed rebel forces fighting against the Russian-backed regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The discussion was on the ways of settling the Syrian conflict, including the possibilities of the Russian-U.S. cooperation in the fight against terrorist groups active in Syria,” a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

A Russian bombing campaign in Syria was said to officially only target Islamic State terrorist fighters, but the United States has accused the Russians of using the terror threat as cover to go after rebel forces aligned against Assad in the nation’s long-running civil war.

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