Russian officials have also admitted, for the first time, that its jets bombed 24 targets in Syria using coordinates supplied by “opposition representatives”, the is information from groups fighting Syria’s government.
“The coordinates of all of these targets were given to us by opposition representatives,” senior military official Andrei Kartapolov said, without specifying the groups involved.
Hours later the the US said its fighter pilots communicated directly with Russian jets in the skies over Syria, in the first test of a new strategy to ensure the two sides’ are combatting the Islamic State and not each other.
Washington and Moscow signed an agreement in October, laying out rules to keep their pilots away from each other in the air, after several close encounters raised the prospect of a midair collision or some other dangerous encounter.
A US-led coalition has been bombing Islamic State since December 2014, while the Russians opened an air campaign in September against a broader range of rebels that Western powers say is designed to support its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.