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 Kerry's offer to coordinate actions in Syria with Russia stirs objection within administration, - The Washington Post

The Obama administration’s offer to coordinate air attacks in Syria with Russia has opened a deepening rift between senior national security officials who insist it could quiet Syria’s civil carnage and further larger counterterrorism goals, and those who consider it a counterproductive sellout to the Kremlin.

Censor.NET informs citing The Washington Post.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who said last month that reaching an "understanding" with Russia was "the most important thing" in moving Syria forward, plans to push the deal when he meets Thursday in Moscow with President Vladi­mir Putin.

The U.S. proposal, which has not been made public, calls for the establishment of a "Joint Implementation Group" with Russia, through which the two countries would initially exchange intelligence and operational information on the locations of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, and "synchronize" their independent operations against the Islamic State. Once al-Nusra targets have been agreed, they would determine what action to take and "deconflict" their air operations.

In exchange, Moscow would use its leverage to effectively ground Syria's air force, limiting its operations to non-combat humanitarian and medical-evacuation missions. Both the United States and Russia would recommit themselves to pushing for a political settlement to Syria's civil war.

Kerry is "extremely frustrated," State Department spokesman John Kirby said. "And that's one of the reasons why we're going to Moscow, to see if that change is actually going to be possible - if the Russians are going to do what they've said they were going to do." Administration officials have declined to discuss details of the proposal.

Read more: Kerry to visit Moscow to discuss road map for Minsk deal implementation, - Minister Klimkin

But as Kerry and Robert Malley, the chief White House point man on Syria, negotiate with the Kremlin, a growing chorus of defense, diplomatic and intelligence officials have voiced objections.


"We do this, and then what?" said a U.S. official, one of several who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue and feared identification as internal critics.

"You need to solve the Assad problem, because as long as Assad is in power, Syria is a failed state. And as long as it's a failed state, it will be a breeding ground for extremists," including the Islamic State and al-Nusra, the official said.

Frederic C. Hof of the Atlantic Council, who served as the administration's special adviser for Syria until resigning in late 2012, advised the administration to "take a deep breath and think things through very carefully."

"As desirable as it is to damage a loathsome al-Qaeda entity, military collaboration with Russia could also exact long-term costs to America's reputation and the broader fight against extremism, costs potentially far exceeding the benefits of a here-and-now body count," Hof wrote in the Huffington Post on Tuesday.

 
 
 
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