Russia Notifies US of Strikes

Russia on Dec. 8 gave the US advanced notice before its bombers and cruise missiles attacked targets in Syria, the Defense Department announced. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Russia used the “communications line” established in the memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries in October, but the Pentagon did not provide specific information on the locations of the targets. Russia has contacted the US “a handful of times” to provide prior warning for some strikes, usually when cruise missiles are used. The memorandum so far has been successful in keeping aircrews safe, Cook said. “In all measures, the MOU has achieved its stated purpose,” he said. The vast majority of strikes by Russia have been against forces opposed to the Syrian regime, not ISIS targets, Cook said. Also Tuesday, Cook refuted reports from the Syrian regime that a US strike hit its soldiers near Ayyash on Dec. 6. While the US did conduct strikes that day, the closest target American aircraft hit was about 50 kilometers away, Cook said. (See also Russian Roulette from the December issue of Air Force Magazine.)