Russia and the US are close to starting joint military action against militants in Syria's Aleppo, Russian news agencies on Monday cited Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.
DEBKAfile this week reported that Russia was lined up with Turkey and Iran against the US in the Syrian conflict. However, the pro-Assad army and its Iranian and Hizballah allies have failed to make headway against rebel forces in the battle for Aleppo because of the absence of Russian air support. According to Shoigu’s statement, Moscow is seeking to broaden its options.
"We are now in a very active phase of negotiations with our American colleagues," the RIA news agency cited Shoigu as saying. "We are moving step by step closer to a plan – and I'm only talking about Aleppo here – that would really allow us to start fighting together to bring peace so that people can return to their homes in this troubled land."
Shoigu said about 700,000 people were still living in Aleppo and that those living in the eastern part of the city were "hostages of armed groups".
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said earlier Monday that Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia should play a more active role in helping to resolve the Syria crisis, announcing that he would meet representatives of the Syrian opposition in the Qatari capital, Doha Tuesday.