Syria ‘near miss’ prompts US-Rus­sia air safety talks

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

The US and Rus­sia are to hold new talks on air safety in Syria af­ter it emerged com­bat air­craft from both na­tions came within miles of each other on Satur­day.

The planes were in vis­ual con­tact with each other, 10 to 20 miles (15-30km) apart, a US de­fence spokesman told re­porters in Washington DC.

It will be the third round of talks as the two coun­tries seek to find ways of avoid­ing an ac­ci­den­tal con­flict.

De­spite the talks, the US said Rus­sia’s ac­tions in Syria were “wrong­headed”.

US Sec­re­tary of De­fence Ash Carter said he ex­pected a deal soon. Rus­sia said it had “up­dated pro­pos­als” to be dis­cussed dur­ing a video con­fer­ence.

Rus­sia be­gan its cam­paign of air strikes in Syria on 30 Septem­ber, say­ing it was tar­get­ing Is­lamic State (IS) mil­i­tants and other ji­hadist groups af­ter a re­quest to help mil­i­tar­ily from Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad.

Western coun­tries and Syr­ian ac­tivists say Rus­sian planes have been hit­ting non-mil­i­tant tar­gets - a claim Moscow de­nies.

In a sep­a­rate de­vel­op­ment on Tues­day, two shells struck the Rus­sian em­bassy com­pound in the Syr­ian cap­i­tal Damascus as hun­dreds of pro­gov­ern­ment sup­port­ers ral­lied out­side in sup­port of Rus­sian air strikes.

No-one was killed but a BBC Ara­bic cor­re­spon­dent in Damascus says some peo­ple were in­jured.

Rus­sia de­scribed the shelling as “a ter­ror­ist at­tack”.

Rus­sia launched its air strikes in Syria on 30 Septem­ber

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