US officials say military hotline with Russia remains open

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The United States blasted a Syrian air base with a barrage of cruise missiles in fiery retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians.

The decision was made in response to the USA missile attack on a Syrian base.

The United States and Russian Federation sparred Friday over whether they will maintain a hotline aimed at preventing midair collisions of their warplanes in Syria, with senior USA military officials contradicting Moscow's claims that it has suspended the "deconfliction" talks in protest of America's cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base. Although they support opposing sides in the war between Assad and rebels, Washington and Moscow both say they share a single main enemy, Islamic State.

On the U.S. side, it is run out of the Combined Air and Space Operations Center at the vast al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which hosts the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command. Russian Federation is waging its own bombing campaign in support of President Bashar Assad's forces, while the Syrian government has its own air force and air defense systems.

Moscow and Washington opened the hotline in 2015 after Russia intervened militarily in Syria as a way to ensure Russian and USA planes conducting combat missions in Syria's skies don't stumble into an accident or confrontation.

The U.S. officials, however, said they were also reviewing evidence to see if Russian Federation was complicit in the attack on the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, where more than 80 people were killed.

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The U.S. officials, however, said they were also reviewing evidence to see if Russian Federation was complicit in the attack on the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, where more than 80 people were killed.

President Trump authorized a missile launch into Syria late Thursday in response to a chemical attack earlier this week that us and other Western officials believe was conducted by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Trump cited the chemical attack as justification for the missile strike on a Syrian air base. Washington says Syrian government forces carried out a poison gas attack in northern Syria this week that killed at least 70 people.

The U.S. officials also said they're aware of Russians with chemical weapons expertise who have been in Syria. The U.S. used the "deconfliction line" to warn Russian Federation ahead of time that the strike was coming. The U.S. missile strike could make it all but impossible to improve relations.

They said a drone belonging either to Russian Federation or Syria was seen hovering over the site of the chemical weapons attack Tuesday after it happened. Eliminating the hotline could enhance the risk of an accident involving the two nuclear powers. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Russian Federation will quickly "strengthen the Syrian air defense system and increase its efficiency in order to protect Syria's most sensitive infrastructure facilities".

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