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Russian, French Military Chiefs Discuss Syria Cooperation

Russia says the top Russian and French military officials have held a phone call to discuss joint efforts to fight the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

The Defense Ministry said on November 19 that Russia's chief of general staff Valery Gerasimov discussed with his French counterpart, Pierre de Villiers, "the coordination of military troops' actions against IS terrorists in Syria."

France, which is part of a U.S.-led coalition fighting the IS group, stepped up air strikes on Syria following last week's terror attacks in Paris, and called for a broad anti-IS coalition. Russia launched its own bombing campaign in Syria on September 30.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on November 19 that Russia was ready for "practical cooperation" with the U.S.-led coalition if its members "respect Syria's sovereignty and the prerogatives of the Syrian leadership."

The comments came amid disagreements over the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The United States and its allies want Assad to step aside during or at the end of a transition period, while Moscow says only the Syrian people should decide if he steps down.

Based on reporting by AFP, Interfax, TASS, and Reuters

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