- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2015

Israeli and Russian military chiefs will meet to coordinate efforts in Syria and prevent the countries from accidentally trading fire in the region, an Israeli military officer said Thursday. 

The team, headed by the countries’ deputy armed forces chiefs, will hold its first meeting by Oct. 5, Reuters reported

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Monday to set up the team as Moscow ramps up its military support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is losing ground to Islamist militants in country’s bloody civil war. 

An Israeli military officer, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the talks with Moscow would focus on aerial operations in Syria and “electromagnetic coordination,” which likely means the countries will agree not to scramble each other’s radio communicators or tracking systems. 

Israel and Russia will also coordinate on sea operations off Syria’s Mediterranean coast, where Moscow has a naval base, the Israeli officer told Reuters. 

Israel has occasionally conducted airstrikes in Syria to foil suspected handovers of Russian or Iranian-supplied arms to Assad’s guerrilla allies in Lebanon. The new talks could prevent a showdown between Israel and Russia in the region.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said progress had been made in Russian-Israeli contacts over Syria, though he declined to confirm the coordinating team could meet soon.

“When it comes to communication channels and coordination of possible actions, yes, in fact, this topic was discussed and certain agreements and points during the meeting with Netanyahu were reached,” Mr. Peskov told reporters in a conference call, Reuters reported.  

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