The US is going to create a joint HQ with Russia to share intelligence and conduct ‘synchronized’ strikes on Islamists in Syria. If the plan is approved, we will have a chance to see unusually deep military-to-military ties for the two nations amid uneasy relations.
The Washington Post obtained and published the draft proposal ahead of a meeting between US State Secretary John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. According to the report, the proposal goes far beyond recent agreements between the US and Russia on flight safety during two countries’ air operations over Syria. It describes a unified command-and-control structure Joint Implementation Group (JIC) that should be installed outside Amman, the Jordanian capital.
“Subject matter experts and professionals with expertise in intelligence, targeting and air operations” would be among the JIC staff, with a Russian and an American colonels “or civilian employees of equivalent ranks” acting as senior officers on either side.
The original purpose of JIC operation is “to maximize independent, but synchronized, efforts” against IS and Al-Nusra Front terrorists in Syria. According to the Washington Post, Russian and US militaries can “permit integrated operations” that include assisting each other in air raids, if everything goes as planned.
According to the draft proposal, “Russia can use airpower in defense of Syrian government forces in the event of attack by [Al-Nusra Front] … if agreed in advance with the United States,” while “the Syrian military can employ military action, including air activities, against the Nusra Front outside of designated areas if Nusra acquires territory there.”
A US government source later confirmed the authenticity of the proposal to TASS, saying that Washington intends to “continue to discuss these issues with Russia.” Another US government source also did not deny the draft’s authenticity but refused to comment on the “details of the documents that have not yet been approved or agreed upon.”
If the proposal that has the ultimate goal to set a “durable national ceasefire” in Syria, is approved, we will see an oddly contrast with the recently-proclaimed US “deterrence” policy towards Russia.