Russia and Turkey Join Forces in Syria

Russian and Turkish aircraft on Wednesday conducted joint operations for the first time, reportedly targeting ISIS fighters in the Syrian town of Al Bab, a move the US says “certainly adds to the complexity” of the fight in Syria. A Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman said nine Russian aircraft and eight Turkish F-4s and F-16s conducted strikes on 36 targets in the village near the Turkish border, where Turkish fighters have received tepid support from the US, according to the BBC. USAF Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, speaking Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., said while the move complicates the fight, it isn’t concerning yet. There has so far been a “say/do” gap with Russian action, where Russian officials say they are targeting ISIS but are instead supporting the Syrian regime. Goldfein said this mission isn’t as concerning as long as it “aligns with a common enemy.” But if there are “actions by any players that deviate from that objective, then it becomes a far more complex challenge.” The phone line between the US Combined Air Operations Center and Russian officials has been successful, with a Russian-speaking US colonel speaking daily with Russia to deconflict airspace. So far, Russian flights have not impacted coalition operations, though “there’s not an inch on the planet more complex than Syria. As Russia changes its footprint there, it adds to the complexity.”