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US, Russia need to de-conflict their air operations: White House

Washington: The White House reiterated the need for the US and Russia to “de-conflict” their air operations inside Syria as Russia started its first round of air strikes against the Islamic State (IS), Xinhua reported.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Photo Credit: www.newyorker.com
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Photo Credit: www.newyorker.com

“Both presidents agreed that it was a priority for both countries, that tactical, practical conversations between our militaries take place to ensure that our military activities inside of Syria are properly de-conflicted,” White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday.

“The US military officials have been in touch with their Russian counterparts already to set up those discussions,” Earnest added.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Tuesday directed his staff to “open lines of communication with Russia” to de-conflict air operations in Syria, according to Pentagon press secretary.

“We expect the details of those conversations, including the exact timing of those conversations, will be worked out in the coming day,” said Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook at a press briefing.

According to Cook, the purpose of the “de-confliction discussions” will be to ensure the ongoing US-led coalition air strikes against the IS are not “interrupted” by any future Russian military activity and to avoid misjudgment and miscalculation.

Russian air forces carried out air strikes Wednesday in the central Syrian provinces of Homs and Hama, targeting what Moscow said were IS positions.

In the first air strikes, 20 flights were carried out, hitting “eight Islamic State targets” including a command post held by the extreme group, Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said a Russian official informed the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq prior to Russia’s first ever air strikes in Syria against the IS and warned the United States to stay clear of Syrian airspace.

(IANS)

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