Russia, U.S. maintain cooperation to ensure safety of troops in Syria โ€“ Foreign ministry


Cooperation is ongoing between Russia and the U.S. toward safeguarding the security of their troops stationed in Syria and preventing dangerous incidents, according to an official.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov, who made this known to Sputnik on Friday, pointed to the joint statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump issued on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam on Nov. 11, 2017.

The document outlined the โ€œfundamental understanding between Russia and the U.S. in their fight against the Islamic State (IS terrorist organisation banned in Russia)โ€.
โ€œIn particular, the document has outlined the determination of the two countries to defeat the IS in Syria and continue efforts until the group is completely abolished,โ€ Syromolotov said.

He further cited Moscow and Washington as acknowledging in the document, the importance of โ€œmaintaining military communication channels, or deconfliction communications, to ensure the security of Russian and U.S. military.

โ€œSuch interaction is still ongoing and has made it possible to prevent dangerous incidents and continue the fight โ€“ of Russia on one front and the U.S. and its allies on another โ€“ against the IS.โ€

The armed conflict in Syria has been ongoing since 2011.
In August 2015, Syrian President Bashar Assad asked Russia for military assistance in countering the armed opposition forces and terrorist organisations.
The government forces regained control over most of territories by 2017, but terrorists have retained several strongholds located chiefly in the countryโ€™s north.
The U.S. has been primarily cooperating with a group of Kurdish and Syrian opposition fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Last October, Trump ordered his troops to leave Syria, saying that their mission was accomplished, although part of the military has remained to guard the oil infrastructure in the northeast.
Approximately at the same time, Turkey invaded the north of Syria with a declared mission to clear it of what it designates as Kurdish terrorists.

The epicentre of escalation is now the Idlib province, which was turned into a demilitarised zone under an agreement between Russia and Turkey in 2018.

Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Ankara and Moscow last October, Turkish and Russian military have continued to conduct regular patrols in the area.