France: Assad troops could help fight ISIS

France: Assad troops could help fight ISIS
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A leading French official reportedly suggested Friday that troops loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad could play a useful role in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), though coalition partners have long called for Assad to step down.

Speaking a day after his nation and Russia agreed to tighter cooperation combating ISIS, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said ground troops would be necessary to defeat the group, but the soldiers wouldn’t be French.

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"Troops on the ground cannot be ours, but [there can be] Syrian soldiers from the Free Syrian Army, Sunni Arab states, and why not regime troops," Fabius said, according to CBS News.

The Guardian quoted a second French official who stressed that Fabius’s comments did not imply coordination with the Assad regime.

“It could only happen in the framework of a political transition and Fabius stresses that this transition is urgent and indispensable,” the official said.

Two weeks after the attacks in Paris that left 130 dead, French President François Hollande was in Russia, seeking a more unified international front against ISIS, also known as ISIL or Daesh. Moscow has backed Assad before and throughout his years-long civil war, and while Holland and Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinKey Merkel ally set to test Trump amid tensions with Europe How global anti-corruption efforts are being corrupted Trump, racism and diversity in America MORE agreed to more intelligence sharing, the Kremlin remains unwilling to sign onto Western strategy in Syria.

"At the moment, unfortunately, our partners are not ready to work within the format of single coalition," Putin's spokesman said Friday.

In addition to its ramped-up bombing campaign, France intends to increase its support for Syrian rebel groups battling both Assad and ISIS.

“Neutralizing and eradicating Daesh,” Fabius said, is a common goal.