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Turkey, Russia discuss deal to coordinate flights over Syrian airspace

DOGAN NEWS AGENCY
ANKARA
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Russian air force personnel prepare to load humanitarian cargo on board a Syrian Il-76 plane at Hemeimeem air base in Syria. (AP Photo) Russian air force personnel prepare to load humanitarian cargo on board a Syrian Il-76 plane at Hemeimeem air base in Syria. (AP Photo)

Turkey and Russia have been discussing the creation of a protocol to coordinate the flights of their warplanes over Syrian airspace in a bid to prevent unwanted incidents like the downing of a Russian jet by Turkish Air Forces on Nov. 24, 2015, a senior Turkish military source has said.

While drafting the protocol, the two sides also agreed on a "gentleman's agreement" to prevent the two sides' warplanes from entering into areas where the other side is conducting military operations.

The decision to work to coordinate military flights over Syria was taken during a meeting of the respective Russian and Turkish chiefs of General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov and Gen. Hulusi Akar, on Sept. 15 in Ankara.

The two top soldiers approved the establishment of a hotline between the two air forces in a bid to prevent accidents or unwanted incidents.

"Work to accomplish the protocol continues at the highest level" the senior military source told daily Hürriyet on the condition of anonymity on Thursday. If signed, the protocol will mark an important step in developing the military-to-military relationship and coordination between Turkey and Russia in Syria.

The need to make a protocol to coordinate flights in Syria with Russia became urgent after the Turkish army launched the Operation Euphrates Shield on Aug. 24 in a bid to remove Daesh from its border.

"We have carried out 97 sorties against Daesh positions as part of the Operation Euphrates Shield" the source said.

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