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  • Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. | Photo: Reuters

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The United States and Russia are preparing a joint airstrike campaign against militants in Syria.

The Syrian government welcomes reports that the United States and Russia are preparing to jointly carry out airstrikes against Islamist militants in Syria, according to a report in the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.

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Citing an "official source" at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry, SANA reported this week that the government of President Bashar Assad "followed with interest" and "welcomes" statements issued following the U.S. Secretary of State's visit to Moscow concerning an "agreement between the Russian and U.S. sides on combating terrorism."

Earlier this month it was revealed by The Washington Post that the U.S. government is proposing that it and Russia share intelligence and coordinate a joint airstrike campaign against Syrian militants associated with al-Qaida. That comes amid strong opposition from anti-government Syrians, who last week called on the U.S. to suspend airstrikes following reports that the international coalition it leads had killed dozens of civilians in a set of airstrikes in northern Syria.

The U.S. and its allies began bombing Syria in Sept. 2014, with Russia launching its own air campaign in Sept. 2015. According to Airwars, an independent monitoring organization, those airstrikes have likely killed hundreds of civilians.

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In addition to welcoming a joint air campaign, the Syrian government itself "is ready to coordinate counterterrorism air raids in accordance with the agreement between Russia and the USA."

That pledge follows a claim from President Assad that Western states are already coordinating with his government. In June, AFP reported that the U.S. and Russia are already coordinating with Syria on ground offensives out of an operations room in Baghdad, citing a source in the Syrian government.

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