General officers of the coalition Forces that US and Russia back in Syria to fight against the jihadists had a rare face to face meeting on Thursday. The US backs and trains the Syrian Democratic forces(SDF), while Russia backs Syrian government forces allied to embattled President Bashar-Al-Assad.

According to CNN, the two groups met amid heightened tensions and threats over the past few days, involving the allied forces. The two coalitions fight against a common enemy in Syria, ISIS, but have come close to fighting among themselves a few times.

There have been concerns in the past, that the rivalry and close proximity to each other, could hamper the fight against ISIS, and instead set the perfect conditions for the terrorist group to thrive in Syria.

Bombing incident

The latest incident that increased tensions between the two sides happened this past Saturday when Russian warplanes bombed a location where the SDF was present, almost causing an international incident.

US military officials said that although none of their officers were injured, some SDF fighters were wounded and had to be provided with medical attention by the US forces present.

Both troops were spearheading separate operations that were able to free one of ISIS last strongholds in the City of Deir Ezzor, that had been under the control of the jihadists for over 3 years.

Accusations

Russian forces accused the SDF of targeting them with mortars, twice, while they accompanied Syrian regime troops, a claim the SDF denied. Russia warned that if their troops came under attack again, they would return fire.

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Although the agenda of the meeting, how it transpired and where it was held were not released, US officials said that it discussed de-conflict and subsequent follow-up meetings were due to take place.

Collaborative efforts

US Col. Ryan Dillon told CNN that US and Russian- backed fighters would continue to de-conflict at every level to ensure that they remained focused on fighting ISIS and to also make sure that the safety of both their fighters was not compromised.

Dillon added that the meetings were important despite the earlier threats by Russia so that operational arrangements and strategies could be discussed and chart a way forward in defeating ISIS while at the same time, minimizing casualties on both sides.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis echoed Col. Dillons sentiments and said he was not bothered by Russia's threats, as the two forces were working towards a common goal, which was to defeat ISIS.