11:58 GMT +321 January 2020
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    Anti-ISIL airstrikes will not be successful without a ground operation, Kremlin Chief of Staff said Thursday.

    The ground operation against Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria must be carried out by the Syrian Army and Kurdish forces, Chief of Staff of Russian President's executive office Sergei Ivanov said Thursday.

    According to Ivanov, anti-ISIL airstrikes will not be successful without a ground operation.

    "No matter how much you bomb, without a ground operation airstrikes will not be successful. We saw this from the beginning and originally planned our actions with the understanding that our strikes will be coordinated with Syria's Armed Forces," he said. "In fact, [we are willing to work] with anyone who wants to counter terrorists, who cut off people's heads and rape women among other things."

    Russia's air operation in Syria is not "anti-Sunni" or "pro-Assad", Ivanov said. "It is against terrorism."

    Moscow hopes that the meeting between Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry will be a step towards creating a broad coalition on Syria, according to the Chief of Staff.

    Russia is ready to cooperate with all interested parties on Syria, Ivanov stressed. It's impossible to resolve the issue just by military means.

    "We're all in this together," Ivanov stressed. "We are ready to cooperate, knowing that ultimately there should be a political settlement [of the Syrian crisis], the situation cannot be resolved by military means alone."

    The coalition against terrorism should include Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, US and EU, Ivanov noted.


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