Russia is suspending a communications channel with the United States set up to avoid midair incidents between Russian and U.S. pilots in the skies over the Syria.
The move is in response to a U.S. missile strike on a Syrian airfield carried out on Thursday in retaliation for a chemical attack by the administration of Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday.
“Russia suspends the Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents in the course of operations in Syria signed with the US,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.
Russia and the United States set up the so-called deconfliction line in October 2015 after Russian air forces intervened in the ongoing Syrian civil war.
Prior to setting up the line, U.S. aircraft had a few close calls with Russian aircraft, getting as close as a couple of miles from each other.
Since setting up the channel, the U.S. and Russian militaries have communicated on a regular basis.
Recently, U.S. officials have said the line would be even more important as the battlefield constricts, with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) losing territory and competing rebel and administration forces moving in on its de facto capitol of Raqqa.
The line was used most recently Thursday night, when the United States notified Russia it would attack the Syrian airfield, allowing Russian troops there to move to safety.
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