The American and Russian militaries are reportedly opening up communications to coordinate operations in their separate battles against the Islamic State group (ISIS) in Syria. The collaboration of the two military powers is in stark contrast to the two countries' currently venomous diplomatic relations.
On Dec. 27, U.S. officials confirmed that America and Russia are collaborating as both mount campaigns against the ISIS-held city of Palmyra, Syria. Retaking the historically significant city is a top priority for Russia while the removal of ISIS from the city of Raqqa is currently on the top of the U.S. agenda, The Associated Press reports.
Despite the vocal mistrust between the two powers, with both countries leveling accusations of wrongdoing in the region at each other, both U.S. and Russian military officials are reportedly in open communication to help ensure that they do not interfere with each other's operations in Palmyra.
Since Dec. 15, the U.S. and its allies have taken out ISIS-controlled air defense weaponry and shelters around Palmyra with airstrikes. To help ensure that they do not accidentally bomb Russian forces or the forces allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. and Russia have started communicating their plans with each other.
These talks have shifted into the two countries offering their broad strategies to each other: The U.S. intends to focus on Raqqa while Russia hopes to retake Palmyra and then move on to the city of Deir el-Zour.
While the Bashar government had retaken Palmyra from ISIS forces in March, the terrorist organization had seized back control of the city by Dec. 12, CNN reports.
ISIS had originally occupied the historically significant city in May 2015. During their original occupation, the terrorist organization destroyed the ruins and antiquities of the city, demolishing artifacts and locations that dated back thousands of years.
While the U.S. and Russia have reportedly opened up communications to take back the city, American forces are forbidden from openly collaborating with the Russian military as a result of a resolution passed after the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.
On Dec. 27, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the telephone about a potential peace plan between the Syrian rebels and the Assad regime brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey. The deal would not include U.S. involvement, Reuters reports.
The Obama administration has called for Assad to step down from power. Russia continues to support Assad, who has been accused of committing war crimes by the United Nations. Meanwhile, Russian officials have accused the U.S. of arming rebels in Syria who are affiliated with terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda.