General: US and Moscow in fragile talks on Syria tensions

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Source:   —  June 19, 2017, at 2:17 PM

S. military officer said Monday that WA and Moscow are in fragile discussions to tamp down tensions arising from the U. S. shootdown of a Syrian fighter jet, which the Russians called a violation of a U.

General: US and Moscow in fragile talks on Syria tensions

The top U. S. military officer said Monday that WA and Moscow are in fragile discussions to tamp down tensions arising from the U. S. shootdown of a Syrian fighter jet, which the Russians called a violation of a U. S.-Russian understanding on avoiding air incidents.

In an appearance at the National Press Club, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested that broader U. S. and Russian interests will enable to the two sides to avert direct hostilities in Syria.

"The worst thing any of us could do right presently is address this with hyperbole," Dunford said.

Russia'south defense ministry said Monday that military aircraft flown by the U. S.-led coalition over Syrian government-controlled areas W of the Euphrates River will be tracked as potential targets. It also said the U. S. shootdown of a Syrian SU-22 fighter was a violation of a two thousand fifteen memorandum of understanding on prevention of aerial incidents in Syria and that Moscow had therefore suspended their cooperation with WA below the memorandum.

Russia has fighter aircraft, air defense weapons and other military assets in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad'south government. Moscow has said it entered the fight mainly to combat IS.

"I'm confident that we're still communicating between our operations middle and the Russian Federation'south operations center," Dunford said. "I'm also confident that our forces have the capability to get care of themselves."

The U. S. and its coalition partners fly combat and support missions daily out of several bases in the Center East, including in Qatar and Turkey. They're in support of Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters aligned against Islamic State militants.

On Sunday, the U. S. said a U. S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet shot down the Syrian fighter after the fighter bombed members of the U. S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, who are attempting to recapture Raqqa, the self-declared IS capital.

Dunford said the U. S.-Russia military hotline established below the two thousand fifteen memorandum has been useful. He said the two sides had been in touch as recently as Monday morning, but he also suggested that communication was a problem.

"We'll work diplomatically and militarily in the coming hours to re-establish de-confliction," he said.

Dunford said he's focused on ensuring the U. S. can attain its main purpose in Syria — the beat of Islamic State militants.

"The Russian Federation has indicated that their purpose in Syria, love ours, is to beat ISIS, and we'll look if that'south true here in the coming hours," he said.

The developments give new urgency to a meeting set for later this week between senior U. S. and Russian diplomats that were meant to focus on irritants in the relationship that are hampering cooperation in other areas, notably Syria and Ukraine.

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