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russia airstrike syria

Russia and the US have agreed to resume talks on air safety during Syria bombing campaigns, the Pentagon has announced.

The talks “are likely to take place as soon as this weekend,” said press secretary Peter Cook.

There have been concerns that there could be an accidental clash as Russia and the US pursue separate bombing campaigns over Syria.

The US and its NATO allies have also been alarmed at violations of Turkish air space by Russian jets.

US and Russian officials conducted talks on air safety via video conference on October 1, but the US had complained that they had heard nothing from Moscow since then.

Earlier this week, Pentagon officials said they had had to carry out at least one “safe separation” maneuver to avoid a US jet coming too close to a Russian aircraft over Syria.

They said this happened after October 1, without giving a specific date.Syria air safety talks

Talks are likely to deal with how much separation there should between US and Russian aircraft and which language and radio frequencies crews should use for communications.

Russia has said it is targeting positions of so-called Islamic State (ISIS) but there are concerns that it is bombing other rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

Reports on October 9 said IS had seized several villages near the northern city of Aleppo from rival insurgents.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on the same day accused Russia of running “fundamentally flawed” operations in Syria which would “inflame the civil war and therefore extremism”.

But Moscow has dismissed claims that its week of strikes has mainly hit non-ISIS targets.

Russia has also launched cruise missiles against targets in Syria from warships in the Caspian Sea, about 930 miles away.

Ashton Carter said there were indications that four missiles that crashed in Iran before reaching their targets in Syria had malfunctioned.

Russia has denied that any of its missiles crashed, saying all 26 hit their targets.

Russia and US military will hold talks “as soon as possible” to avoid clashing in Syria, the countries’ top diplomats say.

Russian defense officials say their aircraft carried out about 20 missions against the so-called Islamic State group (ISIS) on September 30.

However, the US expressed fears the targets were non-ISIS opponents of Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The US is targeting ISIS with air strikes in both Syria and Iraq.

NATO said there had been little co-ordination by Russia with US-led forces against ISIS, also known as Isil. The US says it was informed of Wednesday’s air strikes only an hour before they took place.

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal report that US-backed rebels were targeted by Russia.Russia and US talks on Syria airstrikes

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said there was a need to “establish channels of communication to avoid any unintended incidents”. His US counterpart, John Kerry, said talks will be held “as soon as possible,” maybe as early as October 1.

John Kerry added: “It’s one thing to be targeting Isil, but the concern, obviously, is that this is not what was happening.”

France’s Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, told French lawmakers: “Curiously, they didn’t hit Islamic State. I will let you draw a certain number of conclusions yourselves.”

Syria’s civil war has raged for four years, with an array of armed groups fighting to overthrow the government.

The US and its allies have insisted that President Bashar al-Assad should leave office, while Russia has backed him remaining in power.

The Russian defense ministry said the country’s air force had targeted ISIS military equipment, communication facilities, arms depots, ammunition and fuel supplies – and did not hit civilian infrastructure or areas nearby.

Syrian opposition activists said Russian warplanes hit towns including Zafaraneh, Rastan and Talbiseh, resulting in the deaths of at least 36 civilians, a number of them children.

None of the areas targeted was controlled by ISIS, activists said.

In a TV address, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the air strikes were targeting Islamist militants – including Russian citizens – who have taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq.

“If they [militants] succeed in Syria, they will return to their home country, and they will come to Russia, too,” he said.

He added that Russia would be “supporting the Syrian army purely in its legitimate fight with terrorist groups”.

Vladimir Putin also said he expected President Bashar al-Assad to talk with the Syrian opposition about a political settlement, but clarified that he was referring to what he described as “healthy” opposition groups.