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PRESS RELEASE


Russia, U.S. Sign Limited Syria Deconfliction Agreement

Oct. 20, 2015 (EIRNS)—An agreement called "The Memorandum of Mutual Understanding between the Defense Ministries of Russia and the United States on preventing incidents and providing for aviation flights during operations in Syria" was signed today, but the U.S. refused to agree to the Russian request for joint operations to save downed pilots.

The Russian ministry release says the agreement

"has important practical value. It regulates the actions of manned and unmanned aircraft in the airspace above Syria. The Memorandum contains a set of rules and limitations aimed at preventing incidents between the Air Forces of Russia and the U.S.."

RT reports that there will be

"24/7 communication channels established between the Russian and American military commanders. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, its U.S. counterparts have pledged to convey the agreement’s details to their anti-Islamic State coalition partners, so that they, too, follow the rules it sets."

The Russian statement says the deal

"shows a high potential for cooperation between Russia and the U.S., including in the fight against terrorism,"

but it adds that the Russian position remains that

"its military is acting in Syria at the request of the legitimate authorities, whereas the use of force in one country’s territory by another country without its authorities’ agreement or a ruling by the U.N. Security Council is against international law."

On the U.S. refusal to agree to mutually save downed pilots, Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the U.S. military forces seem "reluctant to cooperate."

"First of all," he said,

"we are talking about rescue operations of any pilot involved in military commitment in Syria. This won’t be a matter of hours or even minutes but of seconds, and the pilot’s life will depend on our teamwork. Unfortunately, our western colleagues still don’t appreciate the full gravity of the situation."

The memorandum has already come into force, according to the Pentagon. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said it lays out safety protocols; specifies which frequencies both militaries would use to communicate; sets up a hotline on the ground and establishes a working group to talk about further issues, but doesn’t suggest establishing cooperation zones or sharing intelligence information. He said the agreement was limited because there was nothing else on which the U.S. and Russia agree.