Putin agrees to form 'grand coalition' with West to destroy ISIS after meeting French president in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his French counterpart Francois Hollande during a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Nov. 26, 2015.Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he has agreed to form a "grand coalition" with Western powers to ultimately destroy the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist and terrorist organisation after his meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Moscow on Thursday.

Following talks between the two leaders—whose countries were both recent victims of ISIS terrorism—France and Russia agreed to intensify their strikes against ISIS and to increase the sharing of military intelligence, the Daily Express reported.

Putin said Russia was ready to join forces with France against a "mutual enemy" following the downing of a Russian airliner over Egypt on Oct. 31 and the terror attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, NBC News said.

For his part, Hollande said he and Putin agreed to target only ISIS and similar jihadist groups in Syria.

Aside from directly targeting ISIS, France will also increase its support to rebels battling the extremist group on the ground in Syria, Hollande said.

"What we agreed, and this is important, is to strike only terrorists and Daesh [the pejorative Arabic name for ISIS] and to not strike forces that are fighting terrorism. We will exchange information about whom to hit and whom not to hit," Hollande told a news conference.

"The only goal we must have is fighting Daesh and neutralise the terrorists, there is no other goal," the French president underscored.

In an apparent shift in the Russian position, Putin said Moscow is now willing to cooperate with opposition groups fighting ISIS, which could mean backing rebel forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who Russia considers its only ally in the region.

Putin said he was open to closer cooperation with both France and the U.S.-led coalition on selecting targets in Syria.

At the same time, Putin accused Washington of not doing enough to prevent its coalition ally Turkey from shooting down one of its jets.

He said Russia will hold "serious consultations" with the U.S. over the incident.

As for Assad's fate, the Russian leader said this should be decided by the people in his country in a free election.