US welcomes Turkish-Russian anti-ISIS efforts
US would welcome any Turkish-Russia military cooperation in Syria on ISIS if it were truly designed to target the militant group
The United States would welcome Turkish-Russian military cooperation in Syria if it were truly designed to target ISIS, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said in a press briefing on Thursday.
“We have been very clear that if is Russia really interested in taking the fight to ISIL, to combating a terror threat that frankly involves the entire global community, we would welcome their interest on that,” Trudeau said, referring to ISIS by an acronym.
Turkey on Thursday called on Russia to carry out joint operations against ISIS in Syria, after crucial talks between President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan aimed at ending a crisis in ties.
The comments by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu came as a Turkish delegation was in Russia for talks aimed at coordinating actions on Syria and other bilateral issues.
“We will discuss all the details. We have always called on Russia to carry out anti-Daesh (ISIS) operations together,” Cavusoglu said in a live interview with the private NTV television, adding that the proposal was still “on the table”.
Cavusoglu urged Russia to fight against the “common enemy” of ISIS militants in Syria.
“Let's fight against the terrorist group together, so that we can clear it out as soon as possible,” the minister said, warning otherwise that the group would keep on expanding and spread into other countries.
Erdogan visited Russia's second city of Saint Petersburg on Tuesday -- his first trip abroad since the July 15 coup attempt.
It was also his first direct meeting with Putin since the shooting-down of a Russian fighter jet by Turkish air forces on the Syrian border in November that caused unprecedented damage to relations.
NATO member Turkey was long criticized by its Western partners for not playing a full role in the fight against ISIS but upped its involvement last year by offering US forces use of an air base for raids against the group.
Turkey has also carried out air and artillery strikes against ISIS of its own although it is believed to have halted the operations in the wake of the Russian plane incident.
The three-person Turkish delegation in Moscow, made up of representatives from the military, intelligence and foreign service, is tasked with implementing decisions made at Tuesday's summit, Cavusoglu said.
“I believe the mechanism will contribute to this process,” he added.
Cavusoglu said close cooperation between Turkey and Russia would help prevent incidents in the future like the plane crisis.
“Many countries are engaged in Syria actively. There could be mistakes,” he said.
“In order to prevent that, we need to put into practice the solidarity and cooperation (mechanism) between us including sharing of real time intelligence.”
Cavusoglu also said real time communication was also needed between the two presidents and the military officials of the two countries.
Russian raids in Raqqa
Meanwhle, Russian air strikes on ISIS bastion of Raqqa in northern Syria on Thursday killed at least 30 people, including civilians and militants, a monitoring group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 10 raids hit the city and its outskirts, wounding at least 70 others.
The monitor could not specify how many of those killed were ISIS.