United States, Russian forces unite in war
DONALD Trump’s and Vladimir Putin’s friendship has extended to the battlefield, with the US and Russia reportedly joining forces in the fight against Islamic State.
The Russian army said today it had carried out joint attacks with America on Islamic State targets in Syria.
The commander of the Russian air force contingent in Syria “received from the American side … the coordinates of IS targets in Al-Bab, in the province of Aleppo,” Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement. “Two Russian air force planes and two planes of the (US-led) international coalition carried out air strikes against terrorist sites,” destroying arms and fuel dumps in the “joint operation”, the ministry said.
The US defence department denied the Russian claim but Mr Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters in Washington that the new US president is open to conducting joint operations with Russia to combat the Islamic State group in Syria.
“If there’s a way we can combat ISIS with any country, whether it’s Russia or anyone else, and we have a shared national interest in that, sure, we’ll take it,” Spicer told reporters. Russia and the US have been involved in Syria for a time but have mostly fought on opposite sides of the conflict.
Damascus is a key Moscow ally, while the US has supported a coalition of rebel fighters. President Trump has been open about his intention to improve relations with Russia and has pledged to destroy ISIS.
The news of co-operation between the Cold War foes came as Iraqi forces captured all of eastern Mosul, dislodging Islamic State militants from the last pocket they held east of Tigris river, the defence ministry said overnight. Mosul is Islamic State’s last major city stronghold in Iraq.
“The armed forces succeeded in liberating the left bank of the city of Mosul completely, after inflicting heavy losses in lives and equipment to the enemy,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.
Mopping up operations were underway to clear a remaining pocket inside Rashidiya, a northeastern suburb of Mosul, said military spokesman Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool in a statement.