Following a Monday statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) asserting its air forces conducted a strike on ISIS positions in Syria established from intelligence shared by the U.S.-led coalition, the Pentagon said no such cooperation occurred.
According to Moscow’s MOD, the alleged cooperation came one day after a joint-Russian-Turkish operation was carried out against ISIS in al-Bab, Syria, from bases inside Turkey.
Russian military sources and the news agency Tass reported ammunition depots and areas held by ISIS militants were destroyed as a result of the coordination between Moscow and the coalition.
Responding to Russian claims it “received target coordinates of the Islamic State objectives in the Al-Bab area of the Aleppo Governorate from the U.S. side via the hotline with the international coalition headquarters,” a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, Colonel John Dorrian, dismissed it as “rubbish.”
Shortly after Dorrian rejected the Russian claim, Pentagon spokesman, Captain Jeff Davis, said U.S. personnel routinely speak to Kremlin officials to avert “deconfliction” over Syria’s skies, but the procedure does not include the sharing of intelligence with Russia. Davis added there have been no changes to this practice.
Often at odds with the previous administration, Russia has repeatedly appealed for U.S. cooperation in its ongoing military efforts against Syrian opposition groups and ISIS.
Despite the collapse of several ceasefires negotiated over the last year, Russia was able to broker an agreement which led to the evacuation of Aleppo and arrange talks between Damascus and opposition groups in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Asked if the U.S. would be open to expanding cooperation with Russia in Syria at a Monday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said:
“If there is a way that we can combat ISIS with any country, whether it is Russia or anyone else and we have a shared national interest in that, sure we’ll take it.”
The U.S. is currently supporting Sunni rebels in Syria, while Russia backs the government in Damascus, led by President Bashar al-Assad.
[RT News] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy Russian Defense Ministry/AP via Wall Street Journal]