Russia, U.S. move closer on Syrian airspace talks

Military experts from Russia and the United States held talks aimed at setting rules for air-to-air conduct over Syria

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Russia and the United States have moved closer to agreement on a document setting rules for how to keep U.S. and Russian aircraft from clashing over Syria, Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday, citing the Russian Defence Ministry.

Military experts from Russia and the United States, which back opposing sides in Syria's civil war, held their third talks aimed at setting rules for air-to-air conduct over the country.

"A convergence of positions on key issues of the future document has been noted," Interfax quoted a statement from the ministry as saying.

Military commanders from Russia and the United States will hold another round of talks Wednesday on how to stay out of each other's way in the skies over Syria.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the latest “de-confliction” talks as jets from both countries pounded targets in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

“Russia must act professionally in the skies over Syria and abide by basic safety procedures,” Carter said in Boston after talks with his Australian counterpart.

“We'll have another conversation with the Russians tomorrow on this subject. Those discussions are progressing. Nothing has been finalized,” he said.

“Even as we continue to disagree on Syria policy, we should be able to at least agree on making sure our airmen are as safe as possible.”

Carter would not put a time frame on the “de-confliction” talks, but added: “I expect that to conclude shortly.”

And he warned the military-to-military dialogue would not lead to talks on Moscow's approach in Syria “because it is wrong-headed and strategically shortsighted.”

Meanwhile, Russian military airplanes made 41 sorties in Syria in the past 24 hours and attacked 40 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets, a defense ministry official told Russian news agencies on Wednesday.

In the attacks, Russia's air force destroyed workshops near Aleppo used by terrorists to make explosive devices for suicide bombers, the Defense Ministry's Igor Konashenkov said.