US, Russian Officials to Coordinate Flight Over Syria

US and Russian defense officials will meet “within days” to deconflict air operations and ensure the safety of personnel now that Russia has begun its airstrikes in Syria, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday. Despite the new Russian activity, the US and coalition intend to continue air operations “unimpeded.” The goal for the meeting will be to facilitate the flow of information between the coalition and Russian elements “to maintain the safety of personnel in the region, which is critical,” Carter said at a Pentagon press briefing. The Russian method of sharing information before they conducted the airstrikes, by a general walking up to the US Embassy in Baghdad, is “not the kind of behavior we should expect professionally,” Carter said. While the Russian airstrikes do not appear to have targeted ISIS forces, Russia has been clear for weeks that they did intend to begin operations in Syria and the operations did not come as a surprise, he said. However, Russian support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad? will make the Syrian civil war worse and not contribute to the US and coalition goal of a lasting defeat of ISIS, Carter said.