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France, Russia agree to strengthen cooperation in Daesh fight

A grab image taken from a handout video shows a French attack against a site allegedly belonging to Daesh in Syria. (Photo by AFP)

France and Russia have agreed to step up collaboration in the fight against the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in war-torn Syria.

The agreement was made following talks between French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu in Moscow on Monday.

“We have agreed to strengthen our exchange of military information, both on the strikes and the location of the different groups (in Syria),” Le Drian said, adding that the two ministers also agreed to hold similar bilateral meetings “on a regular basis.”

The visiting French minister’s remarks came after reports of tensions between the US-led coalition, of which France is a member, and Russian forces in Syria.

The French defense minister said there “are no conflicts between us,” adding Paris and Moscow intelligence cooperation on Daesh will strengthen their “already existing ties, which require increased cooperation.”

He also said France was not aiming to become a mediator between Russia and the US in creating a joint anti-Daesh alliance in Syria, as Washington and Moscow differ on the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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 Daesh terrorist attacks in Paris.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (L) and French Defense Minister Le Drian (Photo by Reuters) 

‘Common enemy’

A statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry on Monday said that Shoigu and Le Drian had “acknowledged the presence of a common enemy” in the face of Daesh and confirmed their readiness to counter it together.

“Sergei Shoigu stressed that only by joining the efforts of all the concerned nations, one can eliminate the terrorist threat to the people of Paris, Moscow, London and other European cities,” the statement said.

Russia launched an campaign against Daesh in Syria on September 30 upon a request from the Damascus government. The US-led coalition has also been targeting alleged Daesh positions in Syria since September last year without permit from Damascus or a UN mandate.