US and Russia sign agreement over air safety in Syria


The US and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on air safety in Syria, the Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook has announced.

The MoU is aimed at reducing the risk of inflight incidents among the international coalition and Russian aircraft operating in Syrian airspace.

The new development is a result of earlier discussions between US and Russian officials over Syrian air operation.

"The discussions through which this MOU was developed do not constitute US cooperation or support for Russia's policy or actions in Syria."

The officials earlier spoke through video teleconference to discuss the situation following Russia's entry into the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the region.

According to Cook, the agreement includes safety protocols for aircrews to follow, including maintaining professional airmanship at all times, the use of specific communication frequencies and the establishment of a communication line on the ground.

As part of this development, both the countries will form a working group to discuss any implementation issues.

However, according to Cook, the new agreement does not establish zones of cooperation, intelligence sharing or any sharing of target information in Syria.

Cook said: "The discussions through which this MOU was developed do not constitute US cooperation or support for Russia's policy or actions in Syria.

"We continue to believe that Russia's strategy in Syria is counterproductive and their support for the Assad regime will only make Syria's civil war worse."

Cook also added that the US will continue to focus on advancing its interests in Syria, which include fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and supporting a moderate opposition.