During a speech before the United Nations Generally Assembly on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a plan to form a “broad coalition” to fight Islamic State terrorism in Syria and Iraq.
Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump expressed his general support for the plan. He said on “Today”:
“I side with the group that says if Russia wants to go and fight ISIS, you should let them as opposed to saying we're jealous, we don't want you to do that.”
Putin said any plan must include support for embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the U.S. and its allies insist must go, as part of any peace agreement (Russia has long supported Syria).
Trump observed that replacing Assad is a two-step process, with the second step being more critical than the first:
"The people that want to come in and replace Assad, nobody knows who they are and they could end up being worse.
In obvious reference to conditions in Libya and Iraq following the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, respectively, Trump observed:
“We're constantly going out and siding with people and they turn out to be worse than the people who were there before.”
In late July, the GOP presidential hopeful said:
“I think I'd get along very well with Vladimir Putin.”
“I just think so. People say 'What do you mean?' I just think I'd get along well with him.”
Putin deployed Russian Air Force assets to Syria earlier in September, but said on Monday his plan would not include using ground troops. In August, Trump said that he'd put U.S. troops on the ground to fight ISIS.
U.S. diplomats say they will oppose Putin's plan in the UN Security Council.