The Pentagon said Wednesday that it had to reroute a U.S. aircraft over Syria on at least one occasion to maintain a safe distance from Russian aircraft, which are now conducting airstrikes in the war-torn country.
“There has been at least one instance where we’ve had to modify the route of one of our planes in order to maintain adequate airspace separation with a Russian aircraft,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said.
The Pentagon and Russian officials have had at least one meeting to begin discussing procedures that could be implemented to avoid any mishaps between aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition and Russian warplanes.
“We will keep the channel open because it’s a matter of safety and security for our pilots,” Davis said.
The Pentagon has said the talks are limited to discussing procedures for avoiding mishaps and are not aimed at achieving broad coordination with the Russians on military goals.
“We have not agreed to cooperate with Russia, so long as they continue to pursue their mistaken strategy and hit these non-ISIL targets,” Davis said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.
The Pentagon has not released details about rerouting the aircraft, but CBS News on Monday quoted Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, commander of the American air campaign, saying Russian aircraft had not gotten closer than 20 miles to American manned aircraft.