As Syria war enters new phase, U.S. looks to expand communications with Russia

“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.

The United States has sought mostly to limit its involvement in Syria to operations against the extremist group, hoping to avoid being pulled into the larger civil conflict. It has done so, in part, by focusing on areas such as Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital, where the Syrian government has little military presence.

Dunford suggested that communication with Russia would become more important as the United States looks beyond an upcoming offensive to recapture Raqqa toward operations in places like Deir al-Zour, an eastern city where both the Islamic State and Syrian government are active.

The preview of future offensives comes as the Trump administration seeks to highlight the progress it has made in combating the Islamic State.