Hollande, Putin agree on anti-ISIL coordination

Two presidents agreed to 'exchange information about which territories are occupied by the healthy part of the opposition rather than terrorists, and will avoid targeting them with our airstrikes'

Hollande, Putin agree on anti-ISIL coordination

World Bulletin / News Desk

French President Francois Hollande and Russian leader Vladimir Putin agreed Thursday to coordinate strikes against ISIL, but differences over Syria's future hampered efforts to bring Russia into a wider alliance to fight the extremists.

Putin indicated France and Russia would swap data to help identify ISIL targets in Syria, as opposed to other groups opposed to the country's leader, Bashar al-Assad.

The two countries agreed to "exchange information about which territories are occupied by the healthy part of the opposition rather than terrorists, and will avoid targeting them with our airstrikes," Putin said.

"The strikes against ISIL will be intensified and be the object of coordination," Hollande said at a press conference after their 90-minute meeting at the Kremlin.

The agreement to focus on ISIL targets was the most concrete progress from the final leg of Hollande's marathon push to weld together a broad alliance to crush ISIL after the November 13 terror attacks in Paris.

But the French leader failed to gain any pledge fromPutin over helping the U.S.-led coalition which is targeting ISIL.

Putin is fuming over Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter on the Syrian border and deep splits remain between Russia and the West over Assad's fate.

Hollande reiterated that Assad, a key Moscow ally, "has no place in the future of Syria".

Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria since September 30 at Assad's request while a rival U.S.-led coalition is carrying out strikes against ISIL.

Although both Russia and the U.S. coalition oppose ISIL, Washington and its allies say Moscow is primarily targeting moderates fighting the regime in Damascus, rather than the extremists.

Prior to his visit to Moscow, Hollande gained support from Britain, whose premier David Cameron set out his case Thursday for air strikes against ISIL in Syria.

Cameron said Britain should not "wait until an attack takes place here" before acting, saying it was "morally" unacceptable to be "content with outsourcing our security to our allies".

A vote is expected to be held early next week and MPs look set to approve the move, meaning the first British air strikes on Syria could come within days.

Cameron has also offered France the use of a British air base in Cyprus for flying missions against the extremists.

In Berlin, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday said Germany could offer France Tornado reconnaissance jets, a naval frigate, satellite images and aerial refuelling to back the fight against ISIL.

"France was struck to the bone by the horrific attacks by the ISIL but we know that this inhumane rage can hit us or other societies at any time too," Von der Leyen said.

Germany on Wednesday said it would send 650 soldiers to Mali to provide some relief to French forces fighting extremists there.

In contrast, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, in talks with Hollande in Paris, offered only vague support for "a coalition of greater and greater strength" able to destroy ISIL.

France last week invoked a clause requiring EU member states to provide military assistance after the Paris attacks.

Hollande also received what was perceived to be a cool response from U.S. President Barack Obama when he flew to Washington on Tuesday, with the U.S. reluctant to step up military action in Syria without a clear strategy or political track in place. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Kasım 2015, 09:44
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