U.S., Russia Reach Accord on Avoiding Air Incidents in Syria

Russia Jets Takeoff
Defense officials from the U.S. and Russia signed on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding outlining procedures aimed at avoiding incidents among U.S. and Russian aircraft operating over Syria, the Pentagon said.

The memorandum “includes specific safety protocols for aircrews to follow. These protocols include maintaining professional airmanship at all times, the use of specific communication frequencies and the establishment of a communication line on the ground,” Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook said.

“The [Memorandum of Understanding](MOU)¬†does not establish zones of cooperation, intelligence sharing or any sharing of target information in Syria. The discussions through which this MOU was developed do not constitute U.S. cooperation or support for Russia’s policy or actions in Syria,” he said.

The agreement, which follows several weeks of talks between U.S. and Russian officials, will reduce the likelihood of communication failures, Cook said.

A U.S.-led coalition began carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq about a year ago.

Late last month, Russia — at the request of the Syrian government — initiated bombing raids and cruise missile strikes targeting IS and other groups trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

(c) 2015 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.