US House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that he did not envision a “strategic alliance” with Russia in Syria as Washington looks to end the Islamic State group and curb Iran.
“I don’t see strategic alliance — perhaps tactical symmetry for a convenient moment, but not a strategic alliance,” the high-ranking Republic said during a public debate on a visit to Abu Dhabi.
“What matters most to us in Syria is defeating ISIS and preventing Iran from having a land bridge and Hezbollah a foothold,” he said, using an alternative acronym for IS.
“Question remains is that something Russia would embrace?”
Moscow has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria to support leader Bashar al-Assad since late 2015 that has shifted the nearly seven-year war dramatically in his favour.
The US — which has opposed Assad — is leading a coalition that has conducted a separate air campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria.
Onslaughts from forces backed by both Russia and the US have seen the jihadists’ cross-border “caliphate” reduced to a tiny rump territory in Syria.
Despite Moscow pushing for greater cooperation between the two sides they have not publicly worked together and all they have come up with is a hotline to avoid clashes.
The US and its ally Israel are concerned about the influence of Iran and Lebanese militia Hezbollah that has battled alongside Assad’s forces in Syria in a de facto alliance with Moscow.
Key Assad backers Russia and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey are currently pushing their own peace efforts to end the conflict that have left the US sidelined.