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Russian, U.S. Aircraft Have Close Encounter Over Syria

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 14/10/2015 Michael McLaughlin
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Russian and American aircraft flying above Syria had another close encounter that pushed officials to hold talks Wednesday on air safety.

Two Russian and two American military planes zoomed within 10 to 20 miles of each other on Saturday, according to Pentagon officials. 

At that distance, the aircraft were considered to be within visual contact of each other, which is so close that the type of aircraft can be identified with the aid of a pilot's targeting camera.

"While we will not reveal specifics, at no time were our pilots in imminent danger nor did they feel any reason to alter their assigned mission," Army Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza said in an email. 

 

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Tuesday that the Pentagon will seek to coordinate air safety with Russia.

"Our talks there are very professional, they're very constructive, and I expect them to lead in very short order to an agreement," Carter said at a Boston press briefing.

Russian defense officials are also confident that they’re closing in on a deal with their American counterparts, the BBC reported. It was the third round of talks between Russian and American military officials about governing safety in the Syrian skies.

Saturday's incident was the latest in a series of aerial encounters between the two countries since Russia launched airstrikes late last month to prop up Syrian President Bashar al Assad in the ongoing civil war.

The U.S. first intervened in the conflict in September 2014 by bombing alleged Islamic State targets.

Despite the talks, the U.S. will not curtail its airstrike program against the militants, officials have previously said.

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