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Pentagon Supports Enhanced Dialogue Between US, Russian Troops in Syria

© AP Photo / APTVAmerican soldier standing on an armored vehicle
American soldier standing on an armored vehicle - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Department of Defense spokesman Eric Pahon told Sputnik on Monday that the existing deconfliction channel between the Russian and US militaries in Syria has worked well.

"More dialogue could only be better," Pahon said. "We are talking with the Russians in the area… The more we talk and the more we are able to avoid miscalculation, the better."

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Pahon said the established military-to-military deconfliction channel has been working well and there have not been any interruptions, but pointed out that the US military is prohibited from actually cooperating with Russia.

"General Dunford has had communications with his counterpart on the mil-to-mil level. We haven't had any significant incidents between the coalition aircraft or Russian aircraft operating in the area. So, clearly we were able to deconflict our operations and that continues," Pahon said.

In August, The US government extended its ban against cooperating militarily with Russia in a bilateral format through 2019, according to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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The prohibition, first enacted in the 2017 NDAA, says none of the funds authorized may be used for any bilateral military-to-military cooperation with Russia until Moscow implements the Minsk accords and returns Crimea to Ukrainian sovereignty.

However, the 2019 law adds a provision — missing from two previous NDAAs — that explicitly authorizes negotiations between Washington and Moscow.

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Syria has been in a state of conflict since 2011, with the government forces of President Bashar Assad fighting against numerous opposition groups and terrorist organizations. Russia, along with Turkey and Iran, is a guarantor of a countrywide ceasefire in Syria, while it also provides humanitarian assistance to Syrian civilians and is actively engaged in dialogue on the settlement to the Syrian crisis.

The US-led coalition of more than 70 members has been conducting military operations against the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq since September 2014. The coalition’s activities in Syria are authorized neither by the Syrian government, nor by the UN Security Council.

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