Russia fired cruise missiles at Syrian targets this week without giving any advanced notice, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday, describing a trend of unpredictable military action that has put the United States and its allies on edge.
“We’ve seen increasingly unprofessional behavior from Russian forces. They violated Turkish airspace … They shot cruise missiles from the Caspian sea without warning,” Carter said after NATO defense talks in Brussels.
Moscow said on Wednesday its warships fired a barrage of missiles at Syrian targets from the Caspian Sea, passing a distance of almost 1,500 km (900 miles) over Iran and Iraq to reach their targets.
A U.S.-led coalition is carrying out air strikes against Islamic State militants in both Iraq and Syria, a campaign that Washington has vowed will continue despite Russia’s escalating military activity in Syria.
The United States has acknowledged that U.S.-led coalition aircraft bombing Islamist militants in Syria were re-routed at least once to avoid a close encounter with Russian planes. Carter said Russian aircraft came within a few miles of a U.S. drone.
The United States, which opposes Russia’s backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has ruled out any military cooperation with Russia in Syria.
But the Pentagon is seeking to work out an agreement with Moscow on operating procedures to ensure pilot safety.
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