Russia calls for U.S. talks on Syria to avert ‘unintended incidents’

Russia called for military cooperation with the U.S. to avert ‘unintended incidents’ as it stages navy exercises near syrian coast

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Russia called on Friday for military-to-military cooperation with the United States to avert “unintended incidents” as it stages navy exercises off the coast of Syria, where U.S. officials believe Moscow is building up forces to protect President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. is using Syrian air space to lead a campaign of air strikes against ISIS, and a greater Russian presence raises the prospect of the Cold War superpower foes encountering each other on the battlefield.

Both Moscow and Washington say their enemy is ISIS, whose Islamist fighters control large parts of Syria and Iraq. But Russia supports the government of Assad in Syria, while the U.S. says his presence makes the situation worse.

In recent days, U.S. officials have described what they say is an increase of Russian equipment and manpower.

President Barack Obama said this would not change U.S. strategy in countering ISIS fighters, which includes U.S. planes leading an international coalition in airstrikes in Syria.

“But we are going to be engaging Russia to let them know that you can’t continue to double-down on a strategy that is doomed to failure,” he said at an event with military service members during a visit to Maryland.

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