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US finally admits Russia is targeting ISIS in Syria

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Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook answers questions from reporters.

In a departure from its previous assessments, the US Defense Department has acknowledged that Russia’s air campaign was concentrated on the Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group in Syria.

Russia gave the US advance notice before launching airstrikes on Daesh positions in the Syrian city of Raqqah, the group’s de facto capital, Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook said Tuesday.

“There was advance warning, giving us the opportunity if we had had aircraft in the area that we could have made adjustments,” Cook said.

Cook, however, stressed that the incident was the first in its kind and insisted that Washington is not cooperating or coordinating with Moscow in terms of targets.

The Russians used sea-launched cruise missiles and long-range bombers to target Daesh on Tuesday, according to a senior US defense official.

Russia has been conducting airstrikes on Daesh positions at the request of the Syrian government since September 30. The US has previously insisted that Russia was targeting US-allied militants.

Moscow says it has doubled the number of sorties against terrorist targets in Syria.

The latest surge in airstrikes follows Moscow’s confirmation that the country’s passenger jet that crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on October 31 and killed all the 224 people on board was an act of terror.

France and Russia have also agreed to step up military cooperation to strike Daesh in Syria.

The agreement was reached following a phone conversation between French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin announced in a statement on Tuesday.

The French warplanes carried out their first strikes against alleged Daesh positions in Raqqah on November 15, after at least 132 people were killed and 350 others injured in a series of attacks in the French capital, Paris, late on Friday.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the massacre.

US President Barack Obama acknowledged Monday that the Paris attacks were a “terrible and sickening setback” in the fight against Daesh.

Obama vowed to ramp up the military campaign in Iraq and Syria, but ruled out the possibility of deploying more US ground troops.


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