DAMASCUS, SYRIA (8:00 PM) – The US-led coalition in Syria has vowed to prevent any potential conflict with Russian troops in the country, a top US military official has declared.
During an official briefing, Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesperson of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), stated that the coalition will keep in constant contact with Russian commanders in Syria in order to prevent any sort of clash between the two. According to Dillon, representatives of both Russia and the United States forces have met in the past few days in order to work out a deal, the first personal meeting of its kind since both the US and Russia got directly involved in the Syrian conflict.
The meeting reportedly saw both sides stress the importance of exchanging data and information about the areas where they are active in order to prevent accidental strikes and other incidents. Colonel Dillon furthermore stated that there are already three direct lines in place between the CJTF-OIR and the Russian Armed Forces in Syria, being one for airborne operations, one for the ground theatre and one extra direct line between both armies’ top commanders.
However, the US statement did not include any direct comments about whether the US would also move to request the same sort of restraint from its allies in the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a predominantly Kurdish militia. Also, Dillon said that the coalition would not maintain direct contact with the Syrian Arab Army or any of the pro-government forces, and that as such all contact would go solely through the US-Russian phone lines.
Earlier on Thursday, the Russian Defence Ministry threatened with retaliatory strikes against US-backed militants, after the SDF carried out two attacks against Syrian Arab Army troops in the Deir Ezzor Governorate. Furthermore, on Wednesday armed militants led by troops from terrorist organisation Jabhat al-Nusra attacked Syrian army forces and Russian Military Police units in Idlib, in an apparent attempt to destabilise Syria’s newest de-escalation zone. According to findings by the Russian Ministry of Defence, this attack had been instigated by US special forces.
When faced with these allegations, Dillon refused to either admit or deny them, stating merely that he had no information, and that he “would not entertain that question.”
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