US open to Syrian no-fly zone with Russian help

US open to Syrian no-fly zone with Russian help
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Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonArmed Services chairman to Trump: Keep Mattis 'as long as you possibly can' Sunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Pompeo working to rebuild ties with US diplomats: report MORE said on Wednesday that the U.S. is open to working with Russia to implement measures to stabilize Syria, including no-fly zones and cease-fire observers.

"The United States is prepared to explore the possibility of establishing with Russia joint mechanisms for ensuring stability, including no-fly zones, on the ground ceasefire observers, and coordinated delivery of humanitarian assistance," he said in a statement.

"If our two countries work together to establish stability on the ground, it will lay a foundation for progress on the settlement of Syria's political future," Tillerson added. 


The announcement comes two days before President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: Dems playing destructive 'con game' with Kavanaugh Several Yale Law classmates who backed Kavanaugh call for misconduct investigation Freedom Caucus calls on Rosenstein to testify or resign MORE is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

It's not yet clear what the two leaders will discuss when they meet on Friday, but the ongoing civil war in Syria is almost certain to come up.

The U.S. and Russia have long been at loggerheads in Syria, where Moscow backs the government of President Bashar Assad and Washington supports rebel groups fighting to oust the government.

Russia suspended a critical agreement to coordinate air operations with the U.S. in Syria in April after the U.S. launched a missile strike on a Syrian air base.

That strike was carried out in retaliation for the Assad government's chemical attack in northern Syria days earlier. Tillerson said on Wednesday that Russia has a responsibility to prevent Assad's government from conducting further chemical strikes.

Russia condemned the U.S. response, accusing Washington of launching an attack on a sovereign nation. Moscow has since restored the air operations agreement, which is designed to prevent in-air collisions of Russian and American aircraft.

Russian, Iranian and Turkish negotiators are working to hammer out a deal to establish de-escalation zones in Syria. But negotiators failed on Wednesday to reach an agreement on the safe zones' boundaries and who will be responsible for policing them.