Russia and the US sign deal to avoid incidents in Syrian airstrikes
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Russia and the United States have signed an agreement which, according to the signatories, aims to avert the danger of clashes between the two air forces engaged in recent weeks in air strikes against targets in Syria.
Moscow launched the campaign alongside the government army on September 30, to hit locations, weapons and stores attributable to the Islamic state (IS) and other terrorist groups (including the Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda in the country).
Last week American fighters and Russians came into visual contact "in the same field of battle", a few kilometers from each other.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the text of the deal would remain secret at Moscow's request, but that it laid out means for both sides to communicate and establish a hotline on the ground.
The two countries would not, however, share intelligence on their targets.
The agreement he deal ensured aircraft would stay a "safe" distance from each other, but he would not confirm if specific distances were agreed.
Meanwhile, Moscow confirmed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two sides. Deputy Russian Minister of Defense Anatoly Antonov says that it "contains a set of rules and restrictions to prevent incidents between Russian and American fighters."
Analysts and military experts emphasize that it tool almost three weeks to achieve an agreement between the parties and the deal has a limited purpose. It does not include coordinated air strikes, sharing and intelligence target, but only to prevent accidents between the two air forces engaged in the skies over Syria.
Syrian activists close to the opposition and Western nations say the Russian fighters also hit targets not directly attributable to the Islamic State; an accusation the Kremlin strongly rejects.
Moscow began the military campaign against the IS and other jihadist groups following a request made by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is a historic ally of the Russian government.
About 250 thousand people have been killed since the outbreak of war between the Assad government and a varied coalition of opponents in March 2011. According to UN figures, more than 11 million have been displaced.
At least 4 million have fled to neighboring countries - Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq - while other 150 thousand have to the European Union applied for asylum. The other 6.5 million are internally displaced persons, people who left everything but have chosen to remain in the country.