US and Russia agree to measures to avoid accidents over Syrian skies

While the US and Russia agree on little with respect to Syria they have agreed to measures that will help ensure flight safety for the two countries during bombing sorties over Syria.
Russian Colonel-General Andrei Kartapolov said: "All technical matters have already been agreed upon, with Russian and U.S. lawyers now cross checking the text of the document. We hope this document will be signed in the very near future." He said he wanted broader cooperation on Syria with the U.S. and other countries. Russia had asked to share intelligence with the US and for the US to suggest targets to strike. So far the U.S. has refused such cooperation. However, the U.S. realizes the necessity of avoiding unfortunate accidents over Syrian skies. A U.S. official , speaking anonymously, confirmed to Reuters that a memorandum of understanding between the two countries setting out basic safety procedures over Syria was being finalized.
Kartapolov also said Russia had established direct contact with the Turkish military in order to avoid any incidents near the Turkish border. He reported as well that he had established a hotline between a Russian base in Syria and the Israel air force command to coordinate on Syria flights.
At a recent news conference in South Korea, U.S. President Barack Obama said the only agreement with Russia on Syria was on how to avoid accidents in the air:“There’s no meeting of the minds in terms of strategy,” he said, which reflected a fundamental difference with President Vladimir Putin over the continuing rule of President Bashar Assad. President Putin believes if he continues to do what he has been doing over the last five years, and that is to prop up the Assad regime, that the problem will be solved.”Obama also said that all the parties had to sit down together to plan a political transition and stop the civil war. It is not clear though that the rebels or Assad are ready for such a move.
The U.S. and others have complained that the Russian bombing attacks have been aimed at many areas where the Islamic State is not operating but only rebels opposed to Assad. This is true, but as a recent article points out, many of those being attacked are radical jihadists who belong to the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra who seized anti-tank(TOW) missiles that had been provided to the hapless US-trained troops who twice ended up having US weapons seized by the Front. The missiles have also been provided to the Saudi and Qatar funded radical Islamist Army of Conquest that has been successful against Assad in Idlib province, capturing large areas. The Russian bombing is now primarily designed to degrade these forces so that Assad and allies can regain this territory. There are few "moderate" rebels left in Syria for the Russians to attack and certainly they are not the forces most feared by Assad.


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