US seeks to keep communication with Russia over Syria ongoing – White House

Adam BaderLast Update : Monday 19 June 2017 - 8:52 PM
US seeks to keep communication with Russia over Syria ongoing – White House

The US seeks to keep open the communication channels with Russia over Syria but says it retains the right to self defense, according to the White House spokesman. Moscow suspended military cooperation following the US-led coalition’s downing of a Syrian warplane.

“It’s important and crucial that we keep lines of communication open to deconflict potential issues,” Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday.

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Russian military halts Syria sky incident prevention interactions with US as of June 19 – Moscow

While seeking to keep contacts between the US and Russian military ongoing, the US-led coalition emphasized that it retains the right to “self-defense” amid the news and added tensions, the spokesman added.

Spicer’s statement echoed the comments made earlier on Monday by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Marine General Joseph Dunford, who said the US is working to reestablish communications with Russia in Syria, aimed at preventing possible incidents between the two countries’ troops.

“We’ll work diplomatically and military in the coming hours to reestablish deconfliction,” Dunford said at a news conference, adding, that the contacts between Russian forces in Syria and a US air operations center in Qatar were still open as of Monday morning.

Moscow announced on Monday afternoon the decision to pause cooperation with its American counterparts in the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria following the coalition’s downing of a Syrian Su-22 warplane on Sunday.

“In the areas of combat missions of Russian air fleet in Syrian skies, any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets,” the Russian Ministry of Defense stated, condemning the downing of the Su-22 jet as a “cynical” violation of Syria’s sovereignty.

READ MORE: US-led coalition’s downing of Syrian plane ‘act of aggression’ & ‘support for terrorists’ – Moscow

The US military did not use the communication line with Russia during the attack on the Syrian Su-22, despite the fact that Russian warplanes were in the area during the US strike, the ministry underlined.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov branded the attack on the Syrian jet as an act of aggression which in fact helped the terrorists the US says its trying to destroy.

The US-led coalition shot-down the Syrian Su-22 warplane on Sunday, when it was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) some 40km from Raqqa, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The US military, however, claimed that the jet “dropped bombs near” US-backed Kurdish SDF militants. The pilot ejected from the plane above IS-controlled territory and is still missing.

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Adam Bader