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US, Russia hold military talks to avoid mishaps over Syria

Update: October, 02/2015 - 11:22

WASHINGTONThe Pentagon has held talks with Moscow officials to try to avoid mishaps between the two military powers, though it wasn't clear how fruitful the effort was amid a second day of Russian bombing in Syria.

US military officials were furious on Wednesday after Russia only gave them an hour's vague "heads-up" it was about to begin bombing. The warning didn't specify when or where the strikes would occur, only that coalition planes should avoid the area.

With a US-led coalition carrying out near-daily plane and drone strikes in Syria, the new reality of Russia flying sorties in the same air space has left the Pentagon worried about planes crossing paths and sparking a major international incident.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Defence Department officials spoke with Russian counterparts for about an hour via video in what he said was a "cordial and professional" exchange.

He gave few details but said officials discussed which international frequencies could be used if a pilot was in distress and what language aircrews should communicate with each other in.

"We made crystal clear that at a minimum the priority here should be the safe operation of the aircrews over Syria," Cook said. No follow-up calls had been scheduled yet, he added. — AFP


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