Washington will not share intelligence data on Islamic State positions in Syria and will not accept Moscow’s offer to cooperate on rooting out terrorism until Moscow changes its position on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s future, the Pentagon said, according to RT.
Ever since the start of the Russian campaign in Syria in late September, Moscow has been offering to share information with the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), urging Washington to reciprocate. After months of extensive diplomatic efforts by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, and the Kremlin, the Pentagon is still refusing to enter the proposed cooperation.
“We are not going to cooperate with Russia on Syria until they change their strategy of supporting Assad and instead focus on ISIL,” U.S. Defense Department Spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza told Sputnik on Friday.
Moscow has persistently insisted throughout the course of the Syrian conflict that it is only up to the Syrian people to decide who governs them. Russia has repeatedly spoken out against foreign intervention in the domestic affairs of any country, including Syria.
Washington and their Middle Eastern allies do not consider the elected president of Syria to be a legitimate authority and want him gone, claiming only his unconditional departure can ignite a political process in the war-torn country.
However, recently Washington has softened its rhetoric, saying that Assad might play a certain role in the “transitional period” while “how and when he goes” is being decided.