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Syria crisis: US and Russian defence chiefs discuss conflict

September 18, 2015 6:36 pm

Top US and Russian defence officials have held their first talks in more than a year to discuss the Syrian war, the Pentagon says.

Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter discussed with Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu how their two sides can avoid accidentally clashing on the ground, a statement said.

Russia said the talks proved the sides had common ground, state media said.

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The US and Russia have disagreed sharply on Syria’s bloody civil war.

While Moscow has backed the Syrian government, the US sees the removal of President Bashar al-Assad as essential to resolving the conflict.

The US has also been alarmed about reports of a Russian military build-up in Syria, at a time when the Assad government has been losing ground to rebels.

Russian fighter jets have now arrived at an airfield near President Assad’s heartland of Latakia, US officials said.

Both sides however are concerned about the so-called Islamic State, with the US leading a coalition against the militant group.

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