At the UN press conference in New York, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stated that a line of communication between the United States and Russia “largely” contributed to the eradication of the Islamic State (ISIS), Interfax reports.
“We established a line of military communication with regard to Syria; this cooperation has largely contributed to the fact that ISIS did not materialize as a caliphate and was destroyed,” said Lavrov.
The Russian Foreign Minister noted that the United States is a “powerful country”, which is able to do “many useful things” to eradicate terrorism. Moscow is interested in coordinating actions with Washington “so that we are able to resolve these issues jointly,” noted Lavrov.
The line of communication between Russian and American soldiers was established between the US air base at Al-Udeid in Qatar and the Russian air base in Lattakia. In March 2017, it was reported that Moscow and Washington had begun to establish a new communication channel between their respective generals regarding Syria. As Greg Hicks, a spokesperson for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the American Armed Forces, said, dialogue was established at the level of high-ranking military personnel in order to lessen the “risks of confrontation” on the ground and in the airspace above Syria.
In June 2016, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that it would be suspending cooperation with the United States, in accordance with a memorandum to prevent incidents in the sky above Syria. The department also warned that planes and drones belonging to the international coalition in the airspace west of river Euphrates “will be tracked by Russian anti-aircraft forces.” The Russian department of defense took this measure after the military coalition struck a Syrian Su-22 fighter-bomber near the city of Raqqa. The Ministry of Defense noted that Russian aircraft had been in the air at the time of the incident, and that the Coalition had not used the line of communication between the air force commands.
After the release of the Russian statement regarding the termination of use of the communication line due to the mid-air incident, the Coalition responded by saying that it would still continue to use the line for dialogue with the Russian side despite this.
In the beginning of December 2017, the Russian Joint Staff released a statement regarding the liberation of Syria from ISIS. On December 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of a portion of Russian forces from the Syrian Republic. The next day, on December 12, American President Donald Trump said that the Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria had been defeated by the United States.