April 12, 2018 / 10:28 AM / 10 days ago

Kremlin says Syria crisis hotline with U.S.A in use

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Thursday that a crisis communications link with the United States meant to avoid an accidental clash over Syria was being used by both sides as tensions mount over a possible U.S. strike on Russia’s key Middle East ally.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

The Kremlin was speaking as British ministers planned to gather to discuss whether to join the United States and France in a possible military attack on Syria that threatens to bring Western and Russian forces into direct confrontation.

Asked whether the so-called deconfliction line between the Russian and U.S. militaries for Syria was being used to avoid potential Russian casualties in the event of a U.S. strike, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters:

“The line is used and it is active. In general the line is used by both sides.”

Peskov said the Kremlin was closely following Syria-related announcements from Washington and reiterated a Kremlin call for restraint.

“We continue to consider it extremely important to avoid any steps that could lead to more tension in Syria. We believe that would have an extremely destructive impact on the whole Syria settlement process,” said Peskov.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Christian Lowe

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