US-Russia Coop. Plan on Syria Likely in August

US-Russia Coop. Plan on Syria Likely in AugustUS-Russia Coop. Plan on Syria Likely in August

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he hoped to announce in early August details of a US plan for closer military cooperation and intelligence sharing with Russia on Syria.

Kerry, speaking after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a meeting of Southeast Asian nations in Laos, said there had been progress in recent days on moving forward with the plan, Reuters reported.

The proposal envisages Washington and Moscow sharing intelligence to coordinate airstrikes against the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and prohibit the Syrian air force from attacking moderate rebel groups.

Kerry has defended the proposal despite deep skepticism among top American military and intelligence officials, including Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, over working with Russia.

“My hope is that somewhere in early August we would be in a position to stand up in front of you and tell you what we’re able to do with the hopes it can make a difference to lives of people in Syria and to the course of the war,” Kerry told a news conference in the capital Vientiane.

During the discussions, he and Lavrov outlined the next stage of implementing the plan, including a series of technical-level meetings to address concerns by the US military and intelligence community.

“We are doing our homework and a lot of that homework has been done in the last few days, and I will tell you has been done successfully,” Kerry said.

Meanwhile, an explosives-laden car blew up on Monday in a heavily policed district in the center of the Syrian capital Damascus, causing injuries and extensive damage, state media said.

The explosion in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood linked to the city center and several highways hit an area where some of Syria’s main security installations are based.