The Pentagon has stepped up communication with the Russian military over Syria, a top official said Friday as the Trump administration lays plans for future operations likely to thrust U.S. forces closer to Russian and Syrian troops.

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the United States had opened a new channel between senior U.S. and Russian military officials to discuss what Pentagon officials refer to as the “deconfliction” of ground and air operations within Syria.

The United States is now in the third year of its campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, where the application of Russian military might has strengthened the hand of President Bashar al-Assad.

“I’m confident that we’ve made progress in that regard over the last couple months,” Dunford told reporters at the Pentagon.

“My sense is that the Russians are as enthusiastic as we are to deconflict operations and ensure that we can continue to take the campaign to ISIS and ensure the safety of our personnel,” he said, using another name for the Islamic State.


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