Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is visiting Tehran for talks with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts.

Shoigu's deputy, Anatoly Antonov, said Thursday, according to Russian news agencies, that the negotiations will focus on closer cooperation between the three countries in fighting the Islamic State group and al-Qaida's branch in Syria, the Nusra Front.

Shiite power house Iran has been a top backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, along with Russia. Tehran has deployed what it says are military advisers to support the Syrian government, and Moscow's air campaign in Syria launched on Sept. 30 has helped Assad's army to win back some ground lost in the five-year civil war.

Antonov said that Shoigu will also have bilateral meetings with both Iranian and Syrian ministers to discuss military cooperation.