US and Russian military leaders will hold talks on Wednesday on how to keep clear of each other in the skies over Syria. But the two Cold War adversaries don't see eye-to-eye on a strategy for the war-torn country.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the latest "de-confliction" talks, as jets from both countries pounded targets in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.
"Russia must act professionally in the skies over Syria and abide by basic safety procedures," Carter said in Boston after talks with his Australian counterpart.
"We'll have another conversation with the Russians tomorrow on this subject. Those discussions are progressing. Nothing has been finalized," he added.
The meeting follows after US military said on Tuesday that two US and two Russian aircraft had "entered the same battle space" over Syria on Saturday, getting within miles of each other.
Different approaches, different objective
Carter would not put a time frame on the "de-confliction" talks, but said that he expected them "to conclude shortly."
He warned the military-to-military dialogue would not lead to talks on Moscow's approach in Syria "because it is wrong-headed and strategically shortsighted."
"Even as we continue to disagree on Syria policy, we should be able to at least agree on making sure our airmen are as safe as possible," Carter said.
Russia said its air force had hit 86 "terrorist" targets in Syria in the last 24 hours, including several linked to the Islamic State group. But Washington and its allies - engaged in their own air war - accused Moscow of targeting moderate US-backed rebels and seeking to prop up Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Meanwhile, Syria's army along with Iranian and Hezbollah allies told Reuters news agency that it would soon launch a ground attack, boosted by the support of Russian air strikes against insurgents in the Aleppo area as well as near the border region with Turkey.
ss/jr (AFP, Reuters)