21:58 GMT12 August 2020
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    A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in London said that Russia had asked the United Kingdom for assistance in establishing contacts with the Free Syrian Army.

    LONDON (Sputnik) – Russia has asked the United Kingdom for assistance in establishing contacts with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in order to better coordinate efforts in the fight against Islamic State (ISIL) in Syria, a spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in London told RIA Novosti.

    "[Ambassador of Russia to the United Kingdom] Alexander Yakovenko announced that the Russian side would be grateful to British partners for assistance in establishing contacts with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in what concerns its efforts, as well as those of the Syrian Armed Forces, in the fight against ISIL and FSA’s possible participation in the political process," the spokesperson said.

    Yakovenko met with Simon Gass, Director General of the UK Foreign Office's political unit, on Thursday.

    According to the Russian embassy spokesperson, the two sides agreed that anti-terrorism efforts in Syria should be carried out parallel to a political process aimed at ending the Syrian crisis.

    "The Russian side stressed [during the meeting] that consolidation of international efforts is necessary for an effective countering of the threat coming from Islamic State and other terrorist groups," the spokesperson said.

    On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it was informing foreign partners of its readiness to establish contacts with the FSA, an armed Syrian opposition faction considered moderate by Western countries.

    One of the FSA founders, Fahad Masri, said on Thursday that he had met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in Paris, expressing readiness to engage in dialogue with Moscow and Damascus.

    This came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was willing to reach out to FSA to discuss collaboration in the fight against ISIL militants in Syria.

    Russia started carrying out airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria last week, following a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.


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