The U.S. military will not share intelligence with Russia in Syria, top general Joseph Dunford said Thursday as he laid the blame for a deadly airstrike on Moscow.
The Joint Chiefs chairman told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he doesn’t “believe it would be a good idea to share intelligence with the Russians.”
The admission comes as the U.S. and Russia continue efforts to shore up a nationwide cease-fire in Syria, which, if it had held for seven consecutive days, would have resulted in Washington and Moscow coordinating strikes against Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front.
The deal was dealt a serious blow Monday when an air raid targeted a UN aid convoy bound for Aleppo, Syria’s largest pre-war city. That follows an hour-long Saturday coalition air raid on a Syrian military position in Deir ez-Zour that provoked Moscow’s and Damascus’ ire.
When asked if he thought Russia carried out the deadly raid on the UN convoy, Dunford acknowledged, “that hasn’t been concluded yet, but my judgment would be that they did.”
Two Russian aircraft were in the area at the time of the strike, Dunford said, making the first public disclosure of the U.S.’s understanding of the timeline around the fatal attack.
“It was an unacceptable atrocity senator,” he said.
Russia has denied that it or its principal ally, Syria, conducted the Monday airstrike that killed at least 12 people, including aid workers and drivers.
It has also dismissed a proposal from Secretary of State John Kerry to ground Russian and Syrian aircraft in northern Syria to prevent additional attacks on aid convoys.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the plan “not functional” and again denied his country carried out the fatal attack.
Regarding a Daesh chemical attack on U.S. and Iraqi forces in Iraq, Dunford said Washington’s assessments have determined a sulfur-mustard blistering agent was used in the shelling of a base used by American forces.
Daesh “has a very rudimentary capability to deliver that”, and that no U.S. personnel were injured, he said.
The airbase is said to be Qayyara West Airbase where the U.S. plans to launch strikes in support of a pending Iraqi offensive to retake Mosul from the terror group.