French President Francois Hollande has said that Russia and France had agreed to coordinate strikes against Islamic State (IS) jihadists after talks with Vladimir Putin, who said Moscow could avoid bombing “healthy” opposition groups.
“The strikes against Daesh (IS) will be intensified and be the object of coordination,” Hollande said at a press conference with his Russian counterpart, adding that the strikes would focus on the transportation of oil.
Hollande was in Moscow for the last leg of a diplomatic mission to rally support for a wider coalition against IS, with the two leaders finding common ground as recent victims of attacks that killed hundreds of people.
“We today agreed to intensify our joint work on the anti-terrorist track, to improve the exchange of information in the fight with terrorism, establish constructive work between our military specialists,” Putin said.
“We have agreed… That we will exchange information about which territories are occupied by the healthy part of the opposition rather than terrorists, and will avoid targeting them with our airstrikes,” Putin said.
Countries in the US-led coalition leading a parallel campaign to bomb IS targets have repeatedly accused Moscow of seeking to bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime by attacking moderate groups fighting both Assad and IS.
The role of Assad, however, remained a deeply divisive issue following the talks in the Kremlin, as the Russian leader said the Syrian army is a “natural partner in the fight against terrorism” battling on the ground.
Hollande meanwhile argued that Assad “has no place in the future of Syria.”