Russia hits ISIS oil assets, ‘ready’ to work with anti-ISIS coalition
Russia is ready to work with the Western coalition fighting ISIS and had its air force conducting mass strikes on terrorist positions and their oil assets Thursday.
Russia’s General Staff said the mass strikes hit oil refining assets under ISIS’s control, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Russian planes fired twelve cruise missiles at ISIS targets in the Aleppo and Idlib provinces, it added.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday Moscow is ready to work with the Western coalition fighting ISIS group if its members respect Syria’s sovereignty.
“We…are ready for practical cooperation with those countries which are part of the coalition and are ready to develop with them such forms of coordination that of course would respect Syria’s sovereignty and the prerogatives of the Syrian leadership,” Lavrov said in an interview with state-run Radio of Russia.
“I am convinced that such forms can be found if we take a pragmatic approach.”
Lavrov also said the Paris attacks have helped the West understand that the priority in Syria is to fight ISIS not to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s position that there was no way to solve the Syria crisis peacefully without Assad, who he said represented the interests of a significant part of Syrian society.
Meanwhile, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem plans to visit Russia on Nov. 25, Sputnik news agency reported on Thursday, citing Syria’s embassy in Moscow.
Walid al-Moualem will visit Russia next week for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about his country’s crisis and the struggle against terrorism, RIA news agency reported on Wednesday.
France, Russia joint efforts
Russian and French military officials, meanwhile, held a phone call on Thursday to discuss joint efforts to fight ISIS in Syria, the RIA news agency reported.
Russia’s chief of general staff held talks with his French counterpart on Thursday on combating ISIS in Syria, in the first such contact since the start of the Ukraine conflict last year.
Valery Gerasimov and Pierre de Villiers “discussed on the phone the coordination of military troops’ actions against ISIS terrorists in Syria,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement, adding that the conversation lasted an hour.
The two military chiefs “exchanged their evaluations of the current situation in the country” following calls to unite efforts against ISIS group by presidents Vladimir Putin and Francois Hollande.
“The terrorist acts in Paris and on board of the Russian passenger plane are links of one chain,” Gerasimov was shown by state television as saying on the phone to his French colleague.
“Our grief and our wrath must help join efforts of Russia and France in the fight against international terrorism.”
Russia first launched air strikes on Syria in September at the request of its long-standing ally President Bashar al-Assad, while a U.S.-led coalition of countries opposed to the Syrian strongman is conducting a separate air campaign against ISIS.
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks on Friday, French President Francois Hollande called this week for a broad anti-ISIS coalition, echoing an earlier call made by Putin made at the U.N. General Assembly in September.
Hollande said he would next week discuss his proposal with U.S. President Barack Obama and Putin, who has ordered his navy in the Mediterranean to establish contact with its French counterparts and work together “as allies.”