Pentagon denies claim of a joint U.S.-Russian airstrike on Syria

The Daily Beast reports: No, U.S. and Russian warplanes are not flying combat missions together over Syria. Yet.

That startling claim, which spread across the U.S. news media on the afternoon of Jan. 23, 2017, began with a vague and misleading tweet by the Associated Press that was apparently based in part on a misreading of reports by Russian state media.

“BREAKING: Russian Defense Ministry says its warplanes have flown first combat mission in Syria with U.S.-led coalition aircraft,” the A.P. tweeted at 12:18 P.M. EST.

The Pentagon flatly denied the claim. “The Department of Defense is not coordinating airstrikes with the Russian military in Syria,” department spokesman Eric Pahon told The Daily Beast. “DoD maintains a channel of communication with the Russian military focused solely on ensuring the safety of aircrews and de-confliction of coalition and Russian operations in Syria.”

The A.P.’s report is inaccurate, but the wire service’s confusion is perhaps understandable — and, for Moscow, might even be the whole point. It’s not hard to see how Russia benefits from news reports claiming that the United States and Russia are fighting side-by-side in Syria.

After all, U.S. President Donald Trump seems to be pushing the Pentagon in that direction. [Continue reading…]

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