Airstrikes and military responses on behalf of the US are being co-ordinated in connection with Russia, allowing British Prime Minister Theresa May to reassure the UK Government any action taken in Syria will not escalate into war due to rising tensions with Russia.
The revelation comes after US President Donald Trump met with his national security team on Thursday to discuss a potential military response to the ongoing crisis in Syria, which includes air strikes on eight possible targets.
These targets reportedly include two Syrian airfields, a research centre and a chemical weapons facility, according to a source.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin expects the US and its allies to reveal the exact locations of their proposed targets in advance of any attack in order to avoid any loss or damage to Russia equipment and personnel.
Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the US and Russia were in communication via a “deconfliction line” operating between Russia’s main base in Syria and the US central command in Qatar in order to co-ordinate airstrike details.
Vladimir Putin reportedly expects the US to reveal the exact locations of their proposed air strikes
The line exists and it is active. In general, the line is used by both sides
Mr Peskov said: “The line exists and it is active. In general, the line is used by both sides.”
Kommersant newspaper also stated that Russia “is expecting to receive coordinates of the targets at which the United States is planning to launch strikes”.
Defence analyst Alexander Golts commented on the line of communication, stating: “They understand there’s danger and are trying to avoid it.
And Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said it was essential “to avert the danger of war” between the US and Russia.
The co-ordination of air strikes between the US and Russia was previously seen last April following a chemical attack when the US gave Russia 90 minutes warning prior to their strike on the Shayrat airbase.
Russian soldiers positioned at the entrance to the Wafideen camp in Douma, Syria
Open communication between the US and Russia has allowed Mrs May to allay fears that a potential British military involvement in Syria could lead to a dangerous build-up of aggression between Russia and the West.
Fears over the fallout of Western military involvement arose after President Trump tweeted: “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria.
“Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’
“You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”
President Trump’s comments were in response to growing tensions with the Kremlin, in which Russia warned the West against launching any further air strikes in Syria, stating that they would “take response measures against both the rockets, and the platforms from which they are fired” if Russian personnel were targeted.
The US administration has refused to confirm the precise details of any planned military action
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said: “Russia has warned US representatives, both publicly and via corresponding channels, including military ones, about serious consequences that might follow possible strikes on Syria, if Russian citizens are hurt in such strikes, accidentally or not.”
The US administration has however refused to confirm the precise details of any planned military action.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Thursday evening: “President Trump just finished a meeting with his National Security team to discuss the situation in Syria. No final decision has been made.
“We are continuing to assess intelligence and are engaged in conversations with our partners and allies.”
The US leader has since spoken to Mrs May on Thursday, and they agreed “on the need to deter the further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.”
He was also due to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron, who said France had proof the Syrian government carried out the attack near Damascus, which aid groups have said killed dozens of people, and will decide whether to strike back when all the necessary information has been gathered.
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Mr Macron said: “We have proof that last week … chemical weapons were used, at least with chlorine, and that they were used by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.”
The UK Government has also vowed to stand alongside France and the US in their response to the crisis, after Mrs May convened an emergency Cabinet meeting to gain full cabinet support form her ministers to proceed with military action.
An official statement released by Downing Street following the meeting stated: “Following a discussion in which every member present made a contribution, cabinet agreed it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not go unchallenged.”
They also agreed “on the need to take action to alleviate humanitarian distress.”
Mrs May herself commented on the crisis, saying: “We have been working to get an understanding of what happened on the ground. We are rapidly reaching that understanding.
“All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible and we will be working with our closest allies on how we can ensure that those who are responsible are held to account.