WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIL) is not coordinating its actions with Russia in Syria, but can adjust its operations amid intensified Russian campaign in Raqqa, US Defense Department spokesperson Michelle Baldanza told Sputnik on Tuesday.
The spokesperson said Russia informed the United States about planned operations to fire cruise missiles at the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa.
“The notification was intended to help prevent accidents and ensure safe separation during operations in Syria – but this in no way constitutes coordination with Russian forces,” Baldanza said.
“The Russians provided us notice prior to conducting these strikes, via the Coalition Combined Air Operations Center in Qatar, in accordance with the safety protocols agreed to in October 2015,” Baldanza said.
Michelle Baldanza also noted that the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIL) has continued its operations in Syria during intensified Russian airstrikes on Raqqa, but warned pilots to be on heightened alert.
“Coalition pilots were told to maintain a heightened level of awareness, continue planned missions,” Baldanza said. "We were not surprised by the Russian activities."
Earlier on Tuesday, Defense Minster Sergei Shoigu said Russian Aerospace Forces doubled the number of sorties against terrorist targets in Syria during the first day of a newly-planned air campaign. Some 140 targets were destroyed during 82 sorties in the first hours of the operation.
On Tuesday, the Russian military fired missiles from its strategic bombers against the IS stronghold of Raqqa, which has been under IS control since 2013.