After saying for months that the U.S. is not cooperating with Russia in Syria – beyond basic air safety “deconfliction” measures – a senior military official disclosed Thursday that the Pentagon has asked Russia to avoid areas where U.S. Special Forces troops are located in northern Syria.
The U.S. and Russia are both carrying out airstrikes in Syria – the U.S. since the fall of 2014 as part of a coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Russians since last September targeting what it calls “terrorist” groups, in a campaign of support for the Assad regime.
Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, told reporters by video link from Qatar that areas where U.S. Special Forces troops are deployed had been made known in general terms to the Russians.
“Not specific areas, but certainly broad areas to maintain a level of safety for our forces that are on the ground,” he said.
“The areas we’ve actually identified are areas we do have coalition SOF [special operations forces] in Syria,” Brown said. “So, it’s not specific areas, but fairly broad areas, to maintain a level of safety for our forces that are there on the ground.”