France and Russia will exchange intelligence on Islamic State (IS) to improve the effectiveness of their aerial bombing campaigns in Syria, French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday.
Following talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Hollande said the two sides agreed to target only Islamic State and similar jihadi groups in Syria, Reuters reported.
“What we agreed, and this is important, is to strike only terrorists and Daesh (Islamic State) and to not strike forces that are fighting terrorism. We will exchange information about whom to hit and whom not to hit,” Hollande was quoted as saying at a joint news conference with Putin.
Moscow had earlier been accused of targeting mostly Western-backed rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
France will step up support to rebel groups battling IS on the ground in Syria, Hollande said.
The French leader is on a diplomatic offensive to build a common front against the jihadist group that has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people.
Hollande and Putin, however, remained at odds over the fate of Assad, an ally of Russia whom Western and Sunni Arab countries blame for Syria’s nearly five-year civil war and want removed from power.
“I believe that the fate of the president of Syria must stay in the hands of the Syrian people,” Putin said, while Hollande insisted Assad could play no future political role in the country.
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