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US accuses Russia of violating Syria conflict agreement

US accuses Russia of violating Syria conflict agreement
The US Defense Department is accusing Russia of intentionally violating an agreement meant to avoid military accidents in the skies over Syria following an incident last week involving US and Russian fighter jets, The Hill reported.

“Russia is failing to genuinely de-conflict airspace in Syria. Some of these incidents are not mistakes,” Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White said.

“We are working to address this issue at the highest levels."

Two US F-22 fighter jets last week intercepted two Russian Su-25 attack jets and fired warning flares after the Russian aircraft flew east of the Euphrates River. 

The river has been designated as a deconfliction line as it separates Russian and US-led coalition forces operating in the country.

Russian and US military officials agreed last month to fly on opposite sides of a 45-mile portion of the river in an effort to prevent in air collisions, but the Russians have violated the agreement half a dozen times, according to US commanders.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis last week said the deconfliction line was still up, and it was unclear why the Russians were violating the agreement. 

“I don't know if this is a mistake ... I don't expect perfection, but I don't expect dangerous maneuvers, either. And so we'll sort this out,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

“Right now, I cannot tell you if it's sloppy airmanship, or a rambunctious pilot, or people who are trying to do something that was very unwise,” Mattis added.

Russia last week denied that its aircraft crossed the deconfliction line and said in a statement that the incident happened west of the Euphrates River.

The incidents come after US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin last month pledged to “maintain open military channels of communication between military professionals to help ensure the safety of both US and Russian forces and de-confliction of partnered forces engaged in the fight against ISIS.”

But as recently as Saturday, a Russian aircraft struck targets east of the Euphrates River, without informing the US-led coalition, a military official said.

The frequent incidents concern military officials because forces might have to shoot down a Russian aircraft over Syria “because its actions are seen as a threat to our air or ground forces,” US Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said.
Last Modified: Friday، 22 December 2017 03:04 PM
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