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Russia gets no complaints from US over planes’ risky encounters in Syria — ministry

The Russian Defense Ministry says the US-led coalition preferred to act stealthily, that allows the coalition to dodge the responsibility for the death of civilians caused by tragic mistakes

MOSCOW, January 11. /TASS/. The Russian Defense Ministry has received no official protests from the United States over any incidents that might be described in "dangerous proximity" terms of Russian fighters with US Air Force planes in Syria, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.

Konashenkov was commenting on recent claims by the commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, Brigadier General Charles Corcoran, about some "dangerous encounters" with Russian planes reported by US pilots.

"It is hard to understand whether those statements were General Corcoran’s sincere opinion of his own or not or if he, just like many others, has been used by the outgoing US Administration for its Russophobic farewell show. In any case, neither General Corcoran himself, nor the spokespersons for his superiors in the Pentagon have been heard voice any such complaints during regular video linkups with the Russian Defense Ministry regarding the observance of the memorandum on the prevention of incidents in the sky over Syria," Konashenkov said.

He recalled that the US-led coalition preferred to act stealthily.

"Our US counterparts are not very eager to notify us of their combat sorties. From time to time they may mention some time frames and a likely area. But never the specific types of planes or their affiliation," Konashenkov said.

As a result, he remarked, that allowed the coalition to dodge the responsibility for the death of civilians and the elimination of civilian facilities caused by tragic mistakes.

"Suffice it to recall the October 2016 bombardment of the Kurdish village of Hasajek, which caused civilian casualties. Or the January 3, 2017 bombardment of Idlib province by B-52 bombers, which claimed the lives of more than 20 civilians," Konashenkov said.

He pointed out that Russian pilots systematically reminded US and other pilots of the coalition they were not alone or invisible in the sky over Syria.

"In doing so our pilots act very professionally and observe all safety requirements," Konashenkov said.

He also complained that US officials were often "not available at the other end of the hot line in Qatar meant for discussing controversies."

"Apparently, had they used that hot line more often and in the proper way, the commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing would not have to think up non-existing problems in the Wall Street Journal interview," Konashenkov said.