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U.S., Russian Generals Communicating More To Avoid Mishaps In Syria

A Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bomber dropping off bombs over Syria

Russian and U.S. military generals are increasingly communicating about operations in Syria as both countries wage separate but at times overlapping battles in the country, the Pentagon said on May 24.

Air Force Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian, who is in charge of U.S. air operations in the Middle East, said generals from both countries are now using a special "deconfliction" hotline to avoid mishaps.

The hotline, which had intially been staffed by lower-ranking officers, was established in 2015 after Russia entered the Syrian war to prop up the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia and the U.S.-led coalition regularly use the hotline to make sure each side is apprised of where planes and ground forces are located.

The hotline has become ever more vital as Assad's forces have approached areas in the east where the U.S.-led coalition is battling the Islamic State group.

Both sides want to avoid any accidents in the skies, or inadvertently striking the wrong ground forces, Harrigian said.

"We ensure that as we prosecute the fight against the enemy, the Russians, while we don't give them specifics, we make sure we note where we're going to operate," Harrigian said.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP