Russian Warplanes Fly First Joint Mission With US-Coalition Aircraft Kremlin Says, Pentagon Denies

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, cited by AP, Russian warplanes have flown their first combat mission in Syria with U.S.-led coalition aircraft. Russian Interfax added that various ISIS storage facilities, and militants were eliminated in the “joint strike”:

  • ISIL STORAGE FACILITIES, MILITANTS ELIMINATED IN JOINT STRIKE CONDUCTED BY RUSSIAN AEROSPACE FORCES, INTL COALITION FORCES IN SYRIA, WITH COORDINATES RECEIVED FROM U.S. – RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY. IFX.

However, the report was promptly denied by the Pentagon after spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway told reporters Monday that “there is no military-to-military coordination for airstrikes over targets in Syria,” Pentagon. Instead what appears to have happened is that U.S.-led coalition and Russia have communicated to prevent unforseen incidents, a process known as “deconflicting.”

This however is also suspect, because earlier in the day Sputnik reported that Russia had received coordinates of Daesh targets in Al-Bab, Aleppo Province, from the US via the ‘direct line,’ according to the Russian Defense Minsitry said Monday. The United States has provided coordinates of the terrorists’ targets in the city of Al-Bab in Aleppo province for Russian airstrikes. After the reconaissance check, Russia and two coalition jets have conducted joint airstrikes on the Daesh targets in the region.

“On January 22, the Russian command center at the Hmeymim airbase has received coordinates of Daesh targets in Al-Bab, Aleppo province, via the ‘direct line’ from the US-led coalition headquarters. After further data verification with the assistance of unmanned aircraft and space reconaissance, the Russian Aerospace Forces and two jets of the international coalition have conducted airstrikes on the terrorists’ targets,” the statement said.

It appears that the source of the confusion is that instead of US planes, Russia was conducting joint strikes with Turkish warplanes: according to Sputnik Russian and Turkish combat planes have carried out a new series of joint airstrikes against Daesh targets in war-torn Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

“On January 21, the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Turkish Air Force conducted a new joint operation striking Daesh group near Al-Bab in the province of Aleppo,” the ministry said.

According to the statement, the missions involved three Russian planes, including two Su-24M and a Su-34 aircraft, and four Turkish planes, including two F-16 and two F-4 fighter-bombers.

A total of 22 Daesh targets have been struck. A day later, Russia received Daesh’s coordinates in the area from the United States and struck them jointly with the US-led coalition aircraft, the ministry said. This was the second joint operation by Russian and Turkish aviation in Syria. On Wednesday, the first joint airstrikes have been launched against Daesh in Al-Bab.

Turkey is currently conducting an operation in Syria dubbed Euphrates Shield. On August 24, Turkish forces, supported by Free Syrian Army rebels and US-led coalition aircraft, began a military operation dubbed the Euphrates Shield to clear the Syrian border town of Jarabulus and the surrounding area from Daesh terrorist group. As Jarabulus was retaken, the joint forces of Ankara, the coalition and Syrian rebels continued the operation to gain control over Al-Bab in the Aleppo province.

Al-Bab is one of Daesh’s last remaining strongholds near the Turkish border. Capturing the city is of strategic importance to Turkey in order to prevent the Syrian Kurds taking it and unifying their own territories.

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