- The Washington Times
Thursday, July 23, 2020

Russian troops operating in Syria are, for the most part, abiding by mutually agreed upon “rules of the road” dictating how they should act when in close proximity to the U.S.-led coalition currently operating against Islamic State fighters, a senior official with Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve said this week.

Air Force Major General Kenneth P. Elkman, deputy commander of CJTF–OIR, said that with so much combat power in one area, the Russians at the coalition troops are bound to run into each other.

Maj. Gen. Elkman said their concern isn’t about the number of incidents with Russian military troops.

“Our goal is to make sure we abide by the deconfliction protocols and that we make sure that none of those contacts become escalatory — and by and large, we’ve been very successful,” he said.

The coalition forces are in the region to defeat ISIS while the Russians’ primary mission in Syria is to support the government in Damascus. But both sides are talking to each other several times a day, Maj. Gen. Elkman said.

“I think both sides agree that neither nation wants any sort of miscalculation,” he said.

The US-led coalition troops are regularly briefed about not needlessly inflaming tensions with the Russians.

“Russians and coalition forces are out in some of the same spaces every day,” Major Gen. Ekman said. “Just as we conduct patrols — they conduct patrols.”

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