A U.S. F-22 Raptor fighter flies over European airspace during a flight to Britain from Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in Romania April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville
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AL-UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar: Even as tensions between the United States and Russia fester, there is one surprising place where their military-to-military contacts are quietly weathering the storm: Syria.In June, the U.S. military shot down a Syrian fighter aircraft, the first U.S. downing of a manned jet since 1999, and also shot down two Iranian-made drones that threatened U.S.-led coalition forces.All the while, U.S. and Russian military officials have been regularly communicating, unnamed U.S. officials told Reuters. U.S. officials told Reuters that there now are about 10 to 12 calls a day on the hotline, helping keep U.S. and Russian warplanes from clashing, as they support different fighters on the ground.The U.S. military is backing a collection of Kurdish and Arab forces focusing their firepower against Daesh part of a strategy to collapse the group's self-declared "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq.The U.S. military kept flying in the area, and kept talking with Russia.In Syria, U.S.-backed forces are now consumed with the battle to capture Daesh's former capital of Raqqa.
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