News / Middle East

    Pentagon Asks Russia to Avoid Parts of Syria to Protect US Forces

    FILE - Lieutenant General Charles Brown, commander, U.S. Air Force Central Command, also says Moscow asked the U.S.-led coalition to stay away from some airfields in Syria that Russia’s military was using. "Typically, we don't fly there anyway," he said.
    FILE - Lieutenant General Charles Brown, commander, U.S. Air Force Central Command, also says Moscow asked the U.S.-led coalition to stay away from some airfields in Syria that Russia’s military was using. "Typically, we don't fly there anyway," he said.

    The Pentagon has asked Russia to stay away from parts of northern Syria to protect U.S. Special Operations Forces there, according to military officials.

    The acknowledgment shows a level of cooperation with Russia despite the Pentagon's repeated insistence that it is not coordinating with Moscow. Both have been managing air campaigns over Syria for months.

    Lieutenant General Charles Brown, the leader of U.S. Air Force Central Command, which overseas bombing and air surveillance against Islamic State fighters in the Middle East, told reporters Thursday via teleconference that Moscow was asked to avoid "broad areas" in Syria "to maintain a level of safety” for the approximately 50 U.S. special operators helping local forces who are fighting IS.

    “It was a reasonable request to make,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook told reporters.

    Cook said the Pentagon request had “so far been honored” by the Russians.

    An image grab made from a video released Oct. 5, 2015, by the Russian Defense Ministry reportedly shows a Russian aircraft dropping bombs during an airstrike against Islamic State group's positions at an undisclosed location in Syria.
    An image grab made from a video released Oct. 5, 2015, by the Russian Defense Ministry reportedly shows a Russian aircraft dropping bombs during an airstrike against Islamic State group's positions at an undisclosed location in Syria.

    Brown added that Moscow had requested the U.S.-led coalition stay away from some airfields in Syria that Russia’s military was using in its air campaign.

    "Typically, we don't fly there anyway, so that hasn't been an issue," he said.

    The United States has led an international coalition against Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria since mid-2014.

    Russia entered the Syria conflict nearly five months ago. Moscow says it has been targeting the Islamic State group and “other terrorists,” but the U.S. and international rights groups say Moscow mostly has bombed civilians and rebels fighting embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    FILE - Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria.
    FILE - Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria.

    Russia and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding last October that provided a framework for both countries' aircraft to maintain a "safe distance" from one another while operating over Syria.

    Cook said the Russians requested that the full agreement, which covers all types of manned and unmanned aircraft over Syria, not be shared publicly. 


    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: PermReader
    February 20, 2016 7:22 AM
    " Parts of Syria" for 50 men? Media writes about "secret" place that are sent to Moscow. The great secret, the great trust.

    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    February 19, 2016 12:54 AM
    Everywhere IS has been there is nothing left behind but rubble, and paths through the rubble that look like streets.

    by: Anonymous
    February 18, 2016 10:58 PM
    What is the difference between a report like this and a handout from the Pentagon? Approximately zero. You might try something called journalism. Ever heard of it?

    by: AHMED from: INDIA
    February 18, 2016 8:48 PM
    USA can create problems for Syrians but cannot solve their day to day problems of water, food and shelters.
    What is the use to create one more Terrorist Group of Daesh/IS. This is very sad affairs in Syria. Who will rebuild Syria, who will Finance and When?
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 19, 2016 7:06 AM
    [Look for it?] .. The (deal) has been made, and the bargain accepted between the Russians and Iran, and the US, NATO, and the Sunni Muslim kingdoms and Emirates? .. The Russians and Iran, and the US, NATO, and Sunni Muslim kingdoms and Emirates have agreed that the Syrians will give up land for a patrolled independent no fly zone in northern Syria (like in Ukraine) where the terrorist/rebels have a safe haven to go to, protected by the US and their allies? .. That's why Russia told Assad to shut up about fighting till all the terrorists were removed from all of Syria? .. Syria loses land like Ukraine lost land, and Russia and the US and NATO saved face?

    The Russians like the Iranians will get their sanctions and embargos lifted, while the Syrians and Ukraine losses land, and peace will have been restored between Russia and the west, while the terrorists will still be a world power and continuing to attack everybody everywhere? .. As for the innocent Syrians, Iraqis, and Kurds? .. That'll be decided at some other time, after Obama leaves office? .. Look for it?

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