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US pilots 'blatantly' violate mutual safety protocols in Syria: Russia

Russian pilots walk to their Su-30 jet at Hemeimeem airbase, Syria. (File photo)

The Russian forces in Syria say US military pilots keep violating safety protocols aimed at preventing clashes between the two forces in the Arab country.

Head of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria Rear Admiral Oleg Gurinov said on Thursday that US pilots were activating weapons systems while approaching Russian planes in eastern Syria.

“Despite the fact that the Russian side stays committed to the memorandum of understanding between the Russian Defense Ministry and the Pentagon, the so-called international anti-terrorist coalition led by the US continues to blatantly violate the deconfliction protocols and the bilateral Russian-US memorandum on the safety of flights in Syria,” Gurinov emphasized.

Russia has voiced its protest against “provocative actions” by the intruding US forces in the country.

The US military has for long stationed its occupation forces and equipment in northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming that the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh, a brutal militant force widely believed to be trained and sponsored by the American military.

Damascus insists that the unauthorized US deployment aims to plunder the country’s natural resources.

Former US president Donald Trump has admitted on several occasions that American forces were in the Arab country for its oil.

The US and its allies invaded Syria in 2014 under the pretext of fighting Daesh. The Takfiri terrorist group had emerged as Washington was running out of excuses to extend its regional meddling or enlarge it in scale.

American forces sustain their illegal presence on the Arab country's soil, although Damascus and its allies defeated Daesh in late 2019.

Russia – which together with Turkey is carrying out joint patrols in northern Syria– has established special "de-confliction" zones where the US-led coalition can operate.

Russia has been helping Syrian forces in battles across the conflict-plagued country, mainly providing aerial support to ground operations against foreign-backed terrorists.

However, the US has deployed forces and military equipment in Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.

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