17:18 GMT06 March 2021
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    The Russian Aerospace Forces have conducted airstrikes in Syria based on intelligence provided by the US-led coalition, the Russian Defense Ministry reported. The Pentagon later denied that cooperation took place.

    "We consider information released by the Russian Defense Ministry to be highly accurate," defense analyst Igor Korotchenko told RIA Novosti. "This means that the cooperation has begun, which is a good thing since terrorism is a common enemy. There is a real chance to alter previous approaches to cooperation under President Trump. The Obama administration has not been particularly helpful" in this respect, Korotchenko noted.

    The defense analyst suggested that the Pentagon has denied providing intelligence to the Russian Aerospace Forces because the transition from one administration to the other has not fully taken place.

    "Perhaps, the Pentagon did not want to make this information public because [many positions in] the new US administration have not been finalized. Once the Trump team is put together, those who have an adverse informational effect on the cooperation [between the US and Russia in Syria] will be let go," he asserted.

    Retired Lieutenant General Evgeny Buzhinsky, who headed the International Treaty Directorate at the Russian Defense Ministry, shared these sentiments.

    "Thank God if this cooperation is truly taking place. I can only welcome it. By denying these reports Americans perhaps do not want to anger such 'friends' of Russia as [Senator John] McCain while key members of the US government are going through the confirmation process. They probably are afraid of sparking a wave of anti-Russia hullabaloo," he said.

    On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that the Russian command center at the Hmeymim airbase had received coordinates of Daesh targets in the city of al-Bab via the "direct line" from the US-led coalition headquarters. Russian aircraft have assisted the Turkish military in its efforts to push Daesh out of al-Bab.

    Later that day, US Department of Defense spokesperson Adrian Rankine-Galloway told Sputnik that the Pentagon was "not coordinating airstrikes with the Russian military in Syria."

    Korotchenko further said that joint counterterrorism activities are a welcome step, taking into account that the Pentagon has a comprehensive satellite reconnaissance system which covers the entire Middle East. He also expressed hope that Washington will join the peace process aimed at putting an end to the Syrian conflict.

    Russia along with Turkey and Iran has recently brokered a nationwide ceasefire in Syria. The truce paved the way for the first ever talks involving a delegation from Damascus and representatives of armed groups fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

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    information sharing, intelligence, cooperation, US Department of Defense (DoD), Pentagon, Evgeny Buzhinsky, Igor Korotchenko, Turkey, Syria, US, Russia
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