WASHINGTON, January 24. /TASS/. The US Department of Defense denies sharing targeting information with Russia aimed at coordinating the fight against militant groups active in Syria.
"We are not sharing targeting info with the Russians," Department of Defense spokesman Eric Pahon told TASS commenting on Russia’s Defense Ministry’s statement saying that Russia had received coordinates of the Islamic State positions through a US-Russian communications channel, and that two jets from the US-led coalition took part in an airstrike alongside Russian aircraft in the al-Bab area.
According to Pahon, the US Department of Defense "maintains a channel of communication with the Russian military focused solely on ensuring the safety of aircrews and de-confliction of Coalition and Russian operations in Syria." "The Department of Defense is not coordinating airstrikes with the Russian military in Syria," he stressed.
"Our policy has not changed," the Pentagon spokesman went on to say. "The US and Russian militaries continue to interact on a limited set of issues, such as the safety of operations for deployed forces." "However, the Department of Defense suspended military-to-military cooperation with the Russian Armed Forces following Russia's illegal attempted annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, and this restriction is now written into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)," Pahon added.
Meanwhile, Moscow says that on January 22, the US provided information on the IS targets in the Syrian province of Aleppo to the command of Russia’s Aerospace forces. "The Russian Aerospace group command at the Hmeimim airbase received target coordinates of the Islamic State facilities in the al-Bab area in the Aleppo province from the US through a hotline set up with the international coalition headquarters. After carrying out a reconnaissance mission involving unmanned aircraft and space assets, two Russian warplanes together with two aircraft from the US-led coalition delivered airstrikes on the terrorist targets," the Russia Defense Ministry said in a statement on Monday.