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Kerry Expected to Detail U.S. Proposal to Coordinate With Russia in Syria in August

John Kerry
John Kerry / AP
• July 26, 2016 1:34 pm

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Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that he plans to publicly outline in early August details of a bilateral agreement that will enhance military cooperation between the United States and Russia in the fight against terrorist groups in Syria.

Kerry said the two countries have made progress on moving forward with the plan after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The American proposal would mandate the U.S. military to share intelligence with Russia about coordinated air strikes against the the al Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, in exchange for Moscow halting its bombing campaign against U.S.-supported rebels.

"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 said.

United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said in Geneva that he hopes to hold a new round of Syria peace talks at the end of August. He extended the former Aug. 1 deadline while placing time constraints on the U.S. and Russia to strike a deal that supports the talks.

De Mistura said the U.S. and Russia need to make progress in the coming days, arguing that it would help pave the way toward the third round of intra-Syrian peace talks.

The Obama administration decided to back the proposal despite suspicion among top-level officials at the Pentagon and CIA, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Kerry and Lavrov will hold a number of technical-level meetings before the plan is implemented, in order to address skepticism among military officers and the intelligence community in the United States.