Lieutenant General Charles Brown, the head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, has asked Russia not to attack United States Special Operations Forces (SOF) operators currently operating in Syria. Russia was given broad areas and were asked not to strike there, U.S. military officials said on Thursday.
“We told them (the Russians) these are … general areas where we have coalition forces that we don’t want them to strike there, because all it’s going to do is escalate things,” Brown said. “It’s really just to maintain the safety for our forces that are both in the air and in this case on the ground.”
Last October, the United States announced it was deploying dozens of SOF soldiers to advise and assist Assad-opposed forces in the fight against Islamic State. Although the US has not notified Russia of the special forces’ location in Syria, they are ready to do so to keep them safe.
Pentagon official Peter Cook confirmed neither the times of movement nor the specific locations of the operators were divulged to Russia. According to Reuters, “the request was made via the two countries’ defense ministries, and U.S. Secretary Ash Carter was aware of the request, Cook said.”
“We provided (the Russians) a geographical area that we asked them to stay out of because of the risk to U.S. forces,” Cook said. “Up to this point they have honored this request.”
Secretary Carter declined to comment on the timing of the request, most likely due to operational security reasons.
Russia is still conducting airstrikes on Islamic State and other terrorist organization despite the current “ceasefire” based on the fact that terrorism couldn’t be interpreted as anti-Assad forces.