Jordan and Russia to cooperate on Syria military action

Amman is understood to want to protect armed groups it supports from being targeted by Moscow air strikes.

Frame grab taken from Russia''s Defence Ministry footage shows explosion after airstrikes carried out by Russian air force in Idlib province, Syria
Russia launched a bombing campaign in Syria on September 30 [Handout/Reuters]

Russia and Jordan have agreed to coordinate their military operations in Syria, including air strikes.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the announcement after a meeting with his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh in Vienna on Friday.

Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from the Jordanian capital Amman, said that

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Jordan’s government made the agreement in order to protect the armed groups it supports in Syria from being attacked by Russian warplanes.

“Jordan has been funding opposition groups in Deraa in southern Syria [which borders Jordan], and managed to keep it relatively stable,” she said.

Amman fears that Russia’s military campaign backing President Bashar al-Assad has not only targeted “terrorist” groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but also areas where Syrian rebels operate, Al Jazeera’s correspondent said.

“We understand that the [military] coordination will focus on southern Syria to make sure the Jordanian border remains secure and that its [Jordan’s] interests are not struck by Russia in Syria,” she added.

Jordan is also part of a US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against ISIL.

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Lavrov and his US counterpart, John Kerry, also held closed-door talks on Friday in the Austrian capital focusing on the Syrian conflict.

Assad, who has ruled Syria for more than 15 years with an iron fist, is a close ally of Russia. He visited Moscow earlier this week for previously unannounced talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in his first official visit outside Syria since the civil war began.

Air strikes by both the US-led coalition and Moscow have been blamed for causing scores of civilian deaths and the destruction of residential buildings in opposition-held areas.

At least 446 people, more than a third of them civilians, have been killed by Russian air strikes since they began on September 30, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based rights group, said on Friday.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies