War can, apparently, make strange bedfellows and the United States seems ready to get under the covers with Russia.
A leaked U.S. proposal reported Thursday shows that the country is offering a military pact with Russia to combat the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda in Syria. The potential agreement would mean synchronized efforts, including officials from both countries working together on intelligence, targeting and air operations.
Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters following the leak that he plans on meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin later on Thursday to discuss the proposal.
“I’m going to Moscow, meeting with President Putin tonight,” Kerry said while on a trip in Paris. “We’ll have plenty of time to talk about it and I’ll give you all a sense where we are.”
The proposed deal is something of a turnaround for U.S. efforts in the region. Since Russia began airstrikes and military operations in Syria late last year, the United States has been skeptical about Moscow's motives.
Russia sought an international alliance when it began military operations in Syria in late September, but those overtures have been denied repeatedly by American officials who have questioned whether the air campaign was merely a pretext for protecting Syrian President Bashar Assad. The U.S. has publicly called for the ouster of Assad from office. U.S. officials have also accused Moscow of repeatedly violating truces with moderate rebel groups — who are opposed to Assad and the militant group also known as ISIS.
The Syrian Civil War has forced millions of Syrians to flee their homes for fear of violence and resulted in nearly half a million casualties, according to the United Nations. The war began in 2011.