US-led coalition vows to avoid incidents with Russian military in Syria

US-led coalition vows to avoid incidents with Russian military in Syria
The US-led coalition will continue to maintain contact with the Russian military in Syria to prevent any conflicts between the two sides in the course of the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), a coalition official said.

The US-led coalition will continue to keep in contact with Russia to prevent conflicts in Syria, Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), said during a briefing.

He went on to say that representatives of the Russian forces in Syria and those of the US-led coalition met in person “in the last couple of days” to coordinate and enhance conflict prevention measures of both sides in the region.

In the meeting, the two sides stressed the necessity of exchanging graphic data and information on the areas where they conduct operations to avoid accidental strikes and other potential incidents that could “distract” them from defeating Islamic State.

The colonel said that the CJTF-OIR and the Russian forces group in Syria have several de-confliction telephone lines: the one that allows them to discuss the conflict prevention measures in the air, another one that deals with the ground operations and also a direct line between the CJTF-OIR commander and the commander of the Russian forces in Syria.

Dillon also said he believes it was the first time the US and Russian commanders overseeing ground operations in Syria met in person.

At the same time, he said that there is no direct communication between the US forces and the Russian-supported forces on the ground, particularly in the Euphrates valley to the east of Deir ez-Zor, and all the de-confliction efforts are conducted via the telephone lines.

Dillon also refused to answer a question regarding whether the US security services could be behind the recent attack of Al-Nusra terrorists on Syrian Army positions. The colonel said he had “no information” on that matter and “would not entertain that question.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry warned the US that it would strike the US-backed militants, if the militia attacks on the pro-government forces did not stop. The troops of the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF), a predominantly Kurdish militia backed by the US military, recently attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army in the Deir ez-Zor governorate on two occasions, according to the ministry.

On Wednesday, several extremist groups led by Al Nusra militants attacked Syrian positions in a designated de-escalation zone in the western Idlib governorate and threatened a Russian Military Police unit, stationed in the area to monitor the ceasefire.
The Russian Defense Ministry then claimed that the militants’ offensive had been instigated by US special forces.