Russian general staff chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov and US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joe Dunford spent over an hour on the phone Sunday, discussing ways to improve communication and coordination in their respective military operations in Syria. This was a result of accusations by the US of a Saturday Russian airstrike hitting US-backed Kurds.
Details on the Saturday incident are still unclear. Russia insists they attacked ISIS forces in Deir Ezzor Province and gave the US advanced notice. The US claimed there was no notification from Russia, and that they deliberately attacked Kurds and embedded US troops.
There are so many rival factions operating across Syria that communications is a recurring problem, and the US has repeatedly dialed back communications with Russia to “protest” Russia’s backing of the Syrian government.
The realization that such miscommunications are always a danger has raised at least temporary interest in improved communications. In addition to the Dunford-Gerasimov conversation, officials say that Rex Tillerson and Sergey Lavrov also had talks, while other figures on both sides also discussed ways to limit such dangers in the future.