The United States has told Russia broad areas in which U.S. special forces are operating in Syria and asked them not to strike there. How usual or unusual do you find this move. are Russians to be trusted not to strike, not to share this info with other players in the Syrian conflict? Read few comments.
I think it is unusual, and obviously most people would be surprised at this, but while the Russians clearly want to destroy the opposition, they also want to destroy IS as much as anyone else and anything that does that is as much in their interest as it is in America’s. I suspect that the reason is not so much for the safety of US forces, although clearly the Americans would not want them to be killed by anyone yet alone the Russians. This is about the integrity of the delicate operation that US forces will be carrying out. It is to avoid the disruption that any air strikes would have on the confidence that opposition forces have in those US special operations forces, which will take time to become secure. The decision to put these forces in is an essential pre-requisite for getting opposition forces to take on IS, without it there is no motive at all for taking on another opposition force rather than the government at this stage in the conflict. If we get to the point where the government is about to fall, then we can expect opposition forces to take on other rebel groups simply to gain power but at the moment, it isn’t their priority. So the US special operations advisers have a very delicate task and air strikes of any kind will make their task impossible.
Mark Galeotti, Professor of Global Affairs, Center for Global Affairs, New York University
It’s quite an unusual move, but this is quite an unusual war. It is essentially an extension of the deconfliction measures already taken in the air, to ensure US and Russian planes do not get in each other’s way and will be something of a test of Moscow’s goodwill. That said, the Russians have everything to lose if they do hit US forces on the ground, so I think this is a safe bet for the Americans.