After saying US cooperation with Russia in the Syrian conflict doesn’t extend beyond basic flight safety rules, the Pentagon has revealed it gave the Russian military the locations of US special forces in Syria, in the hope Russian aircraft would avoid the area.
The disclosure reveals a modest breakthrough in military–to-military communication and cooperation between the US and Russia beyond the very basic “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) signed in October last year which focused on safety protocols for both Russian and American air crews operating in Syrian airspace.
“We provided a geographical area that we asked them to stay out of because of the risk to US forces,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The request was an attempt to maintain special forces’ safety “in a dangerous situation.” It was made outside the scope of the flight safety memorandum, Cook said.
Up to this point, the Russian military “has honored this request,” he added.
The MOU between the US and Russia arrived in October 2015, after the Russian Air Force began intense strikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL) in Syria. Currently the only official document regulating the two militaries’ conduct, it is limited in scope because Moscow and Washington have sharply different military goals in Syria.
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