U.S., Russia hold secret meeting about fighting ISIS in Syria
U.S. and Russian military leaders met at an undisclosed location in the Middle East this week to discuss the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Syria. Russian forces back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the United States and its allies support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. U.S. officials have long feared unintentional contact with Russian forces in the fight. Earlier today, the Russian Defense Ministry warned it would retaliate if any of its forces came under fire. During the recent secret meeting, U.S. and Russian officials shared maps, graphics, and information about troop locations around Deir el-Zour, where both groups are battling ISIS, according to Army Col. Ryan Dillon, who briefed reporters Thursday. Dillon also said ground troops have used telephone lines during the past month to help prevent accidental confrontations. Congress banned military cooperation with Russia after its troops invaded the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014. Pentagon officials insist the Syria discussions don’t violate U.S. law because they’re about disaster avoidance, not cooperation. Since Russia joined the fight in Syria, commanders have shared information about aircraft movement to avoid accidents in a crowded airspace.
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