24 Jan 2020 15:55

Mechanism for settling incidents between Russian, U.S. militaries in Syria working without failures - Russian military expert

MOSCOW. Jan 23 (Interfax) - Moscow and Washington have achieved a practically ideal level of interaction in preventing clashes between the Russian and United States militaries on the Syrian territory, Vladimir Batyuk, the head of the Center for Military and Political Studies of the Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said.

"Incidents can be resolved using a mechanism of contacts between the Russian and U.S. militaries in Syria. This mechanism has been successfully used to settle incidents on the ground and in the air. This mechanism continues working quite successfully, without failures, despite very serious problems in bilateral relations between Moscow and Washington," Batyuk told Interfax on Friday.

The probability of such incidents in the future is extremely low, he said. "Relatively few possibilities of such incidents in the future remain. The U.S. military contingent in Syria has been seriously reduced. Several hundred U.S. special task troops now remain on the Syrian territory. It appears that there will be no more incidents between the Russian and U.S. troops," Batyuk said.

The media reports on incidents in Syria between Russian and U.S. troops may be part of a PR project to support the U.S. positions in the region, he said. "I believe these reports are not incidental and they are aimed at showing the capability of the Americans to hold their positions," Batyuk said.

The ground forces of the United States and Russia earlier had problems with deconfliction in Syria, U.S. Special Envoy on Syria James Jeffrey said at a briefing in the U.S. Department of State on Thursday. Specifically, the U.S. side has "intercepted" a Russian major general who was on his way to Manbij, he said.

"There were ground deconfliction problems in Manbij beginning about 14 months ago as the Russians moved into the southeastern part of that perimeter. At one point, we intercepted a Russian major general who was driving towards the town of Manbij, but it was all dealt with in these military-to-military channels," Jeffrey said, without giving the Russian major general's name.

Deconfliction channels between the United States and Russia have existed for several years now, especially to resolve issues with the two countries' air operations, he said. The Russian Aerospace Forces are not flying above the northeastern areas of Syria, where the U.S. troops are located, Jeffrey said.