Russia and France to form group of experts for cooperation in fighting ISIS

Both countries want Syria to remain a united, secular and multi-faith state

Russian Armed Forces General Staff Chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov and Chief of the French Defense Staff Gen. Pierre de Villiers have agreed to establish a working group comprising the two countries' General Staff military experts in order to bolster cooperation as part of the fight against international terrorism, the Russian Defense Ministry's press service has said.

Gerasimov and de Villiers held their talks in Moscow on Dec. 23.

"During the meeting, the sides exchanged opinions on the situation in Syria in detail and outlined prospects for intensifying cooperation in the fight against international terrorism, including by forming a working group of military experts from the General Staffs. They also agreed to promote real-time information exchanges in order to coordinate their efforts to more effectively bomb command points, military hardware, depots, militants' supply routes and other infrastructure of ISIS in Syria," the press service said.

"At the end of the meeting, the sides confirmed their common understanding that both Russia and France want Syria to remain a united, secular and multi-faith state," it said.

"Gerasimov provided information that the plundering of Syria's rich natural resources continues, and that proceeds from their sale are being used to finance ISIS, as well as about Turkey's role in this process. Data were also presented concerning the facts of the Turkish side smuggling militants to the northern districts of Syria in order to replenish the terrorist ranks," the press service said.

Gerasimov and de Villiers agreed to continue bilateral contacts.

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