Coalition aircraft re-routed at least once to avoid Russians in Syria: US

7th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Coalition aircraft have been re-routed on at least one occasion to avoid Russian warplanes over Syria, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.

"We have an instance, at least, where there's been action taken to make sure we didn't have an unsafe separation" distance, Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.

Davis said coalition air operations over Iraq and Syria continue, and the effort to avoid the Russian warplanes had not caused a change in mission.

But he said, "We have taken measures to re-route aircraft as necessary when there is an air issue where we might be getting close."

Earlier, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter denied that the United States had proposed to Moscow coordinating their air strikes.

"What we will do is continue basic, technical discussions on the professional safety procedures for our pilots flying above Syria," Carter told reporters in Rome.

"That's it. We will keep the channel open because it's a matter of safety for our pilots."

US and Russian officials held discussions last week -- at Russia's request -- on establishing measures to avoid accidents so warplanes flying over Syria would not be in the same place at the same time.

The so-called "deconfliction" talks came after Russia started bombing in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, further complicating the four-and-a-half-year conflict.

But despite Russian violations of Turkish air space at the weekend, Moscow has not participated in further talks -- frustrating US military officials who had made repeated overtures.

© 2015 AFP

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