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Putin, Hollande agree to coordinate on ISIS fight but divisions remain.

MOSCOW — The presidents of France and Russia agreed Thursday to tighten cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State group, although they remained at odds over their approach toward Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with his French counterpart Francois Hollande during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. IS has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks against both of the countries’ citizens in recent weeks: Nov. 13 shootings and suicide bombings in Paris which killed 130 people, and the Oct. 31 bombing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that claimed 224 lives.

French President Francois Hollande is in Moscow on Thursday to push for a stronger coalition against ISIS militants in Syria, trying to unite France, the U.S. and Russia. President Barack Obama and his wife and daughters were spending Thanksgiving the holiday at the White House. (Vanessa Pena via AP) During a South Carolina speech, the Republican presidential hopeful appeared to imitate mannerisms of a reporter with a condition that affects joint movement, but he says he was only mocking his journalism. The two countries agreed to “exchange information about which territories are occupied by the healthy part of the opposition rather than terrorists, and will avoid targeting them with our airstrikes,” Putin said. “The strikes against Daesh (ISIS) will be intensified and be the object of coordination,” Hollande said at a press conference after their 90-minute meeting at the Kremlin. The agreement to focus on ISIS targets was the most concrete progress from the final leg of Hollande’s marathon push to weld together a broad alliance to crush ISIS after the Nov 13 terror attacks in Paris.

Authorities say the man stole a boarding pass a woman accidentally left behind at a check-in kiosk earlier this month and used it to get through airport security in Salt Lake City before being caught at the flight’s gate. Authorities say he probably died from a broken neck after participating in a tradition to mark college’s football rivalry with the University of Michigan. Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria since Sept 30 at Assad’s request while a rival US-led coalition is carrying out strikes against ISIS. Although both Russia and the US coalition oppose ISIS, Washington and its allies say Moscow is primarily targeting moderates fighting the regime in Damascus, rather than the jihadists.

Cameron said Britain should not “wait until an attack takes place here” before acting, saying it was “morally” unacceptable to be “content with outsourcing our security to our allies”. A vote is expected to be held early next week and MPs look set to approve the move, meaning the first British air strikes on Syria could come within days. Putin dismissed the Turkish claim of intrusion and held the U.S. responsible for failing to rein in its ally, saying that Russia had informed the U.S. about its military flights in the area in advance. In contrast, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, in talks with Hollande in Paris, offered only vague support for “a coalition of greater and greater strength” able to destroy IS. Russia will protect its warplanes from now on with long-range S-400 air defense missiles deployed at its air base in Syria, as well as escort fighters and electronic countermeasures, he said.

Hollande’s diplomatic foray was thrown off track after Turkey shot down a Russian jet on the Syrian border on Tuesday, an incident Moscow described as a “planned provocation”. Hollande described the shoot-down as a “serious incident, obviously regrettable” that underlined the need for closer coordination between nations fighting IS. “It is crucial in that period to avoid any risk, any incident, and prevent any escalation,” Hollande said. “The only goal we must have is fighting Daesh and neutralize the terrorists.

The sole surviving pilot said he received no warning and the aircraft did not violate Turkish air space, but the Turkish military released audio recordings claiming to show the jet was repeatedly warned to change course. Ankara and Moscow have backed opposing forces in the four-year Syrian conflict, with Turkey supporting rebel groups opposed to Assad, while Russia is one of his last remaining allies. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed a proposal by Hollande to close off the Syria-Turkey border, considered the main crossing point for foreign fighters seeking to join ISIS. Von der Leyen said the warship would help protect France’s aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean and the tanker planes could help refuel French warplanes in the air.

Hours later, Prime Minister Charles Michel announced the alert level in Brussels was being lowered one notch from the highest level, on which it has been since Saturday. Despite the reduction in alert level, Michel said an attack remained “possible and likely.” The lowering of the threat level came as a surprise, since the government had said it would likely keep the highest threat level until Monday.

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