White House Open to Cooperation With Russia in Syria, Press Secretary Says

U.S. earlier Monday denied collaborating with Russia on a combat mission.

ByABC News
January 23, 2017, 3:33 PM

— -- White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested Monday that President Donald Trump would be willing to collaborate with Russia on military operations against ISIS in Syria.

The comment in a press conference at the White House on Monday afternoon came after the Pentagon earlier in the day denied a Russian government claim that it had collaborated with the United States on a combat mission in northwestern Syria.

"I think the president says he is going to work with any country that shares our interest in defeating ISIS," Spicer said at his first daily press briefing. "If there is a way we can combat ISIS with any country, Russia or anyone else, and we have a shared national interest sure we will he take it."

The Russian Defense Ministry said Monday that Russian forces conducted an airstrike against ISIS in Syria using coordinates provided by the United States and transmitted through a hotline in the international coalition headquarters.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon denied that the United States worked with Russia on the airstrike.

“The Department of Defense is not coordinating airstrikes with the Russian military in Syria. [The department] maintains a channel of communication with the Russian military focused solely on ensuring the safety of air crews and deconfliction of coalition and Russian operations in Syria,“ Pahon said.

The hotline was established last year to ensure air safety so that Russian and coalition military aircraft flying over the skies of Syria do not come close to each other. There is daily contact via the hotline, but Pentagon officials have emphasized it is not used for the coordination of military activities with Russia.ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.