An agreement between Russia and the United States that will regulate all aircraft over Syria, as announced by both countries.
The New York Times reports that during a briefing at the Pentagon, press secretary Peter Cook, said the agreement established safety guidelines which require forces from both countries to maintain professional standards when fighting in Syria. They are also required to communicate on predetermined frequencies and establish a ground communication line.
The American-led coalition has been bombing areas occupied by the Islamic state in Syria since 2014. Russia began its own strikes on the region three weeks ago. Russia made no attempt to coordinate their strikes with American ones.
Russia’s Defense Ministry announced last week that they developed a hotline with Israel to coordinate future Syria flights.
Russian and American aircraft have had more than a few close calls, with Russian aircraft coming within close proximity of American flights. While the near-accidents were not aggressive in nature, Cook acknowledged them as reasons for an agreement to be made.
Aircraft will now be expected to maintain a safe distance. Further details on the communication line were not released, but Cook described it as a backup resource for real time communications in case air communications fail.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to be interested in taking action in Syria, as an effort to break out of the restrictions imposed by Western countries following the Ukraine crisis. The agreement is thought to be a further step in that direction.
Cook made clear that the agreement does not imply that intelligence or information about targets is being shared between countries, nor does it stand as an endorsement or push for cooperation with Russia’s actions in Syria.